Two alternative Psalms were offered in the Lectionary for yesterday, Holy Family Sunday – the first Sunday of Christmas.
The psalm offered especially for use in Year C – this year, the Year of Luke, and the Year of Mercy – speaks of communion with God. It speaks of the courts of the Lord: back to backs often had courts, but maybe here the idea is that of a grander set of courtyards, fitting to a king. It speaks, rather more domestically perhaps, of God’s ‘house’… but in these days we hear a lot of the House of David…. It speaks of Zion, Jerusalem, seat of king and God, and a place of pilgrimage for the people…
The psalm speaks of communion, and of the psalmist’s longing and yearning for this communion.
They are happy who dwell in your house, O Lord.
How lovely is your dwelling place,
Lord, God of hosts.
My soul is longing and yearning,
is yearning for the courts of the Lord.
My heart and my soul ring out their joy
to God, the living God.
They are happy, who dwell in your house,
for ever singing your praise.
They are happy, whose strength is in you,
in whose hearts are the roads to Zion.
O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer,
give ear, O God of Jacob.
Turn your eyes, O God, our shield,
look on the face of your anointed.
We heard in yesterday’s Gospel how Jesus, Son of David, makes himself at home in the courts of the Temple.
Yet in his discourse he offers a more familial image to consider God – simply as Father. The head of the domestic family – as well as head of people and nation and King of kings.
When we pray, as Jesus teaches, ‘ your kingdom come’, we may have in mind the kingdom of heaven, and God’s dominion here and now over the nations of the world. But it starts – at least for us, existentially, it starts – with our self, our home, our family…
- How evident is the Father’s leadership, his rule, there?
- In me?
- My home?
- My family?
- How would anyone know?
As the civic year draws to a close, take stock and speak to God with gratitude for his care and ask for his help where you seem further from him.
Bethlehem in Venice. (c) 2013, Allen Morris.