How Awesome Is Our God

Shout joyfully to God, all the earth;
sing praise to the glory of his name;
proclaim his glorious praise.
Say to God: “How tremendous are your deeds!”

Come and see the works of God,
his tremendous deeds among the children of Adam.
Bless our God, you peoples;
loudly sound his praise.

Hear now, all you who fear God, while I declare
what he has done for me.
When I appealed to him in words,
praise was on the tip of my tongue.
(Psalm 66:1-3, 5, 8, 16-17)

Scripture Study

66:1–4. The initial invitation is addressed to all the earth, as a sign that God is in charge and sends his blessing upon it (cf. Ps 47:1) and it is followed by references to the “name” of God (vv. 2, 4), that is, it has to do with the God who has revealed himself to Israel (cf. Ex 3:14ff).

66:5–7. The psalmist invites his hearers to “see what God has done” because these wondrous works and their effects can be seen in the temple insofar as they are celebrated there. He recalls the crossing of the Red Sea (cf. Ex 14–15) and of the Jordan (cf. Josh 3:7–17). The power of God can also be discerned in the very existence of his people, whom God protects from the Gentile nations (v. 7). All have reason to recall benefits received from God: “When the soul recalls the gifts he has received from God over a long time, and contemplates the graces that God gives him in abundance in the present, or turns his eyes to the future and the infinite reward that God has stored up for those who love him, he gives thanks in the midst of inexpressible waves of joy” (Cassian, Collationes, 9).

66:8–12. All peoples can appreciate the God of Israel, for, despite the reverses suffered by the people of God—the “test” God has put them through may be a reference to the Assyrian wars against Israel (cf. 2 Kings 18–19), or to the Babylonian exile—they still enjoy peace (cf. Is 40:1–2).

66:13–15. After acclaiming the nation’s deliverance, the psalmist moves on to acknowledge his own. This shift in the psalm has led some commentators to think that it is the king who is speaking in representation of the nation; but it could also be an act of thanksgiving by an individual Israelite who has experienced salvation in his own right and is now associating himself with the proclamation of the people’s deliverance. As is customary in acts of thanksgiving, the speaker begins by stating his resolve to keep the vows he made to God (vv. 13–15).

66:16–20. His promise is followed by acknowledgment of the benefit he has received. The “Come and hear” cf. v. 16 links up with the “Come and see” (cf. v. 5). As also happens in the psalms in which enemies figure (cf. Ps 17; 59), the psalmist’s innocence is the underlying reason why he is blessed, and why he has been vindicated (v. 18).

Scripture Reflection

The psalm is a song that celebrates the deeds of God for the people of God. That is the theme and purpose that unites it. Worship transcends time, and the congregation that sings the psalm becomes part of the astonished joyous people of exodus.

In the same way, Christians sing, “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” This must be the answer to how the nations are to come and see the works of God; the works are rendered by the congregation’s praise, made perceivable in their re-presentation in liturgy through the presentation of offerings by a representative person whose thanksgiving is made in identity with and on behalf of the entire congregation.

– James Mays

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

Mary the true Israel

Mary set out
and traveled to the hill country in haste
to a town of Judah,
where she entered the house of Zechariah
and greeted Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting,
the infant leaped in her womb,
and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,
cried out in a loud voice and said,
“Blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And how does this happen to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears,
the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
Blessed are you who believed
that what was spoken to you by the Lord
would be fulfilled.”

And Mary said:

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
and has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children forever.”

Mary remained with her about three months
and then returned to her home.
(Luke 1:39-56)

Scripture Study

1:43 Even before his birth, Jesus is identified in Luke as the Lord.

1:45 Blessed are you who believed: Luke portrays Mary as a believer whose faith stands in contrast to the disbelief of Zechariah (Lk 1:20). Mary’s role as believer in the infancy narrative should be seen in connection with the explicit mention of her presence among “those who believed” after the resurrection at the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 1:14).

1:46–55 Although Mary is praised for being the mother of the Lord and because of her belief, she reacts as the servant in a psalm of praise, the Magnificat. Because there is no specific connection of the canticle to the context of Mary’s pregnancy and her visit to Elizabeth, the Magnificat (with the possible exception of v 48) may have been a Jewish Christian hymn that Luke found appropriate at this point in his story. Even if not composed by Luke, it fits in well with themes found elsewhere in Luke: joy and exultation in the Lord; the lowly being singled out for God’s favor; the reversal of human fortunes; the fulfillment of Old Testament promises. The loose connection between the hymn and the context is further seen in the fact that a few Old Latin manuscripts identify the speaker of the hymn as Elizabeth, even though the overwhelming textual evidence makes Mary the speaker.

Scripture Reflection

Friends, today we celebrate the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In her great Magnificat, Mary is the new Isaiah and the new Jeremiah and the new Ezekiel, for she announces with greatest clarity and joy the coming of the Messiah.

What was only vaguely foreseen in those great prophetic figures is now in clear focus: “He has shown the strength of his arm; he has scattered the proud in their conceit; he has filled the hungry with good things and the rich he has sent away empty. He has come to the help of his servant Israel, for he has remembered his promise of mercy, the promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children forever.” There is nothing stronger or more beautiful in any of the prophets.

Mary is the true Israel, she knows what to do and she does it with enthusiasm. No dawdling, back-pedaling, straying and complaining: she moves, she goes. And she goes upon the heights, which is exactly where God had always summoned Israel, so that it could be a light to the nations.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.