Each one, as a good manager of God's different gifts, must use for the good of others the special gift he has received from God. (1 Peter 4:10)

Psalm Reflections: Ps 143

A few posts back, I talked about some writing I had done back when I was with the Sisters of Christian Charity as a student and a fledgling religious. This writing came from reflecting on some Gospel stories as well as on the Psalms, and then writing about my reflections by restating, for lack of a better word, what I had read. I knew that a certain amount of imagination was involved in these restatements, and it was very important to me that I remain true to the core of the scriptural passages. Rather than becoming flights of fancy, these written reflections seem now to be very similar to the Ignatian manner of meditative prayer in which one imagines oneself in the moment that is captured by the passage, with a touch of Lectio Divina thrown in.

I recall being a little afraid of showing these writings to my directress; since our rules placed her in a position of pretty much total authority over her young charges, show them to her I must.

To my great surprise, the work I had done received praise and even was selected for some of our mealtime spiritual reading (one of our group always read aloud from some spiritual work for the first half of our mealtimes); not only that, I was encouraged to continue with this work.

When I left the convent, I left this small body of work behind, and I really don’t mind that. I’ve never felt very proprietary about my writing; what’s important to me is that I use the act of writing to share whatever thoughts and ideas might be helpful or useful to others.

Now, 50+ years after leaving, I find myself drawn to continue that work. So going forward, some days you will find a “scriptural reflection” here; other days, you might find a post about something triggered by other readings, a homily, or one of those nudges the Holy Spirit provides every now and then.

Today, my morning prayers led me to Psalm 143, one of the penitential psalms.

In my heart, I know that God is faithful and just and righteous. And so He deals with me in my many sins and faults and imperfections; He calls me to be like Him, He calls me out when I fail, and He forgives me when I have fallen. Why, then, do I still sin? 

With David, I realize that I am surrounded by the enemy, and the enemy does not love me. The enemy is immersed in self-love and does not desire my good. The enemy draws me away from what I know is good and tempts me with all kinds of things. The enemy promises light but delivers darkness, and by myself I am helpless. 

But here is what my God tells me: He is faithful, and I am not alone against the enemy. He is faithful, and He hears me when I ask for help. I know this, because He has answered me whenever I called to Him. Why, then, do I fail to call on Him in all circumstances? Why do I miss the opportunity to bring everything to Him? When I remember His goodness and how He has always saved me in the past, when I recall the way He has faithfully drawn me back to His own side out of the deepest pits I had fallen into, when I think of how He has always fogiven me out of His love and mercy — then I remember to trust Him, and I ask for grace to trust Him completely. 

The Spirit He sends to guide me is kind and gentle, not rough and demanding and loud like the enemy is. Let me be still in my mind and calm in my heart, so that I can hear His voice and feel His promptings. Let me reach for Him and live in the certainty that He loves me and will show me the path He wants me to walk. 

In His very faithfulness, He came to earth Himself in human form so that I, in my weakness, would have a clear model for my life. He loves me, He leads the way, and He showers me with the grace to follow. 

It’s all there. I need only reach out to Him and earnestly desire to grasp it. When I think of how He loves me, my one desire is to follow Him and serve Him. The enemy is subject to Him. When my trust is fully in the Lord, the enemy has no power over me. No matter what happens, I can turn to God, and in Him is all the strength I need. He gives me life — only He, and no other. 

Psalm 143:

A psalm of David.

LORD, hear my prayer; in your faithfulness listen to my pleading; answer me in your righteousness.

Do not enter into judgment with your servant; before you no one can be just.

The enemy has pursued my soul; he has crushed my life to the ground. He has made me dwell in darkness like those long dead.

My spirit is faint within me; my heart despairs.

I remember the days of old; I ponder all your deeds; the works of your hands I recall.

I stretch out my hands toward you, my soul to you like a parched land.

Hasten to answer me, LORDfor my spirit fails me. Do not hide your face from me, 
lest I become like those descending to the pit.

In the morning let me hear of your mercy, for in you I trust. Show me the path I should walk, for I entrust my life to you.

Rescue me, LORD, from my foes, for I seek refuge in you.

Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. May your kind spirit guide me 
on ground that is level.

For your name’s sake, LORD, give me life; in your righteousness lead my soul out of distress.

In your mercy put an end to my foes; all those who are oppressing my soul, 
for I am your servant.

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