Memory of the Saints and the Prophets

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Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

You are a chosen race,
a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
a people acquired by God
to proclaim his marvellous works.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Psalm 33, 2-3.10-11.18-19

2 Praise the Lord with the lyre;
  make melody to him with the harp of ten strings.

3 Sing to him a new song;
  play skilfully on the strings, with loud shouts.

10 The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing;
  he frustrates the plans of the peoples.

11 The counsel of the Lord stands for ever,
  the thoughts of his heart to all generations.

18 Truly the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him,
  on those who hope in his steadfast love,

19 to deliver their soul from death,
  and to keep them alive in famine.

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

You will be holy,
because I am holy, thus says the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The verses of psalm 33 that the liturgy today proposes for our meditation, invite believers to praise the Lord with the lyre and to sing to him with the harp. It is a theme that crosses a large part of the psalter. The Lord’s people are invited to sing praise to the Lord, to bless his name, to thank him for his benefits, to exalt him for what he has done and continues to do for the salvation of his people. The psalmist sings that the Lord keeps his eyes steady on his people, every day, in order to protect them from the snares of evil and lead them to salvation. Hence he invites the community not to stop praising the Lord and singing a “new Song” to him with harps and lyres. This invitation explains the meaning of the common prayer that the community holds all over the world, a prayer well prepared so that it may be beautiful, sung, with choir and instruments, and with psalms that suggest the words and the rhythm of praise. Truly the common prayers of the communities in the cities of this world are like the “new song” of which the psalmist speaks. Gathering in common prayer, while confusion overwhelms our cities and also our hearts, means to create a holy space from which rises the perfume of incense praising the Lord. It is as though He is captured by this perfume and, in a certain sense, his eyes rest more sharply on us and on what we ask him. He is ready to protect our community, to protect the lives of the weak and of those in cities where violence often destroys them. Common prayer is strong and bends the very heart of God. St. Alphonsus de Liguori, a great Italian bishop, spoke of prayer as a great weapon. Jesus himself urges us never to cease gathering for prayer: “Truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.” Common prayer indeed is a priestly service; it intercedes so powerfully that God cannot resist. It suffices to remember the most beautiful prayer by Abraham for the city of Sodom. With this very faith of Abraham let us pray to the Lord for our cities. And when the communities pray together, they are like angels for the cities where they gather. Common prayer resembles the movement of angels of which Jesus speaks: “You will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending” (Jn 1:51). We know that the Lord guides history, this is why our prayer is never disconnected from the events of our cities and of the world. The psalmist reminds us that “The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples” (v.10). We pray that the hands of the violent may be stopped and those of the just strengthened. And with faith we say with the psalmist: “The counsel of the Lord stands for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations” (v.11). God’s love will never abandon us: “Truly the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine” (vv.18-19).