In an ecological reading of Psalm 63 Veronica Lawson* reflects on how all living creatures yearn for the bounty of God.
More often than not in our Sunday liturgies, a contemporary hymn replaces the responsorial psalm after the first reading with the result that we are becoming less and less familiar with a deeply significant part of our Jewish-Christian tradition. The Book of Psalms has been called a “school of prayer” or a “book of praises”. While prayer and praise are key features of this collection of 150 songs or poems, there are other genres represented such as meditations on the Law and celebrations of the Jerusalem Temple. Sadly the music is lost. Fortuitously, the lyrics have survived.
The eight verses of the responsorial psalm for the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time are taken from Psalm 63, which combines elements of lament and praise. The three verses not included in the selection (verses 9-11) identify the speaker as a king who praises God as his protector on the one hand and, on the other, identifies God as the agent of vengeance on those who seek to destroy him. While these verses fall outside the scope of this reflection, we can critique the inference that the suffering of evildoers is a function of God’s retribution. We might bring these verses into dialogue with other passages from the Book of Psalms that present a different attitude to suffering. In Psalm 65:3, for instance, the psalmist is overwhelmed by personal “deeds of iniquity” and is aware of God’s forgiveness…
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*Veronica Lawson RSM is an eco-feminist biblical scholar and author of The Blessing of Mercy: Bible Perspectives and Ecological Challenges, 2016.
Image Mother Dog Family by Nimit Naik from Pixabay obtained from Tui Motu.