The responsorial psalm for today’s liturgy uses six verses from Psalm 145, one of the acrostic psalms. Each verse of the psalm begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet, from aleph to tav. The intention of the sacred writer is to emphasize that the Creator God cares for everything in the created universe from A to Z.
I have to admit that I am partial to the acrostic psalms. Because of the form of the psalm, it is difficult for the sacred writer to maintain a developing or consistent theme. Oftentimes, the verses of these psalms can be used individually as mantras that we carry throughout the day. In the case of Psalm 145, there is a fairly consistent theme; nonetheless, it is still possible to use each verse singly.
Although we only have six of the twenty-one verses, verse nine of the psalm is used as the repeated response, and it is this verse which captures the theme of the psalm. “The Lord is compassionate towards all his works.” A quick scan of the psalm shows us that the word “all” or “every” is used no fewer than eighteen times. In addition, there are several references to the “eternal” praise of God through all generations.
For those who recognize God or a Supreme Being as the Creator, it is important to recognize that God does not belong to one person, one people, one nation, or even one religion. God is the Creator of all and, as the psalm emphasizes, cares for all of the created universe. To try and claim God as the exclusive possession of one race or nation or religion diminishes the notion that God is the Creator and Sovereign of the universe. Yet throughout history we find the tendency to claim that God loves one group or one community more than others. The Hebrew Scriptures constantly remind the children of Israel that God is the God of all. Yet they, like others before and after them, frequently tried to “corner the market” on God. This psalm helps us to remember that God loves us all, cares for us all, and is compassionate towards us all.
There is a story that helps us to remember this fact. As the children of Israel crossed over the Red Sea, they found God sitting on a rock on the other side of the water. As they exited the path through the sea, they found God weeping while sitting on that rock. They exclaimed, “Why weep? We are safe. We have been rescued.” God replied, “Don’t you realize that Pharoah and his people are also my children?” It is helpful to remember this story whenever we try to claim God as our own or try to diminish the importance of others in God’s sight.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator