Thursday, November 16, 2023




“Wherever I go, you are always there! Your hand guides me and your right hand holds me fast!”
Psalm 139

Psalm 139 has to be one of the most beautiful Scripture passages in the whole Bible! It is nothing more than a moving description about how much attention God gives each one of us! In every living moment of our lives, God carries each one of us in his heart.

It almost gave me cold chills as I read and re-read it. Just listen to it again and think of yourself as the one telling God how you notice all the attention that he is giving you!

O Lord, you have probed me and you know me;
you know when I sit and when I stand;
you understand my thoughts from afar.
My journeys and my rest you scrutinize,
with all my ways you are familiar.

Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold you know the whole of it.
Behind me and before, you hem me in
and rest your hand upon me.

Where can I go from your spirit?
From your presence where can I flee?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I sink to the nether world, you are present there.

If I take the wings of the dawn,
if I settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
Even there your hand shall guide me,
and your right hand hold me fast.

Praying people are often so busy trying to keep their focus on God in prayer that they forget that God is already focused on them every moment of their lives even if they should forget God. This psalm reminds me of the awareness of God that Jeremiah had when he was called to be a prophet. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you.” One of our familiar hymns, You Are Near, puts it this way. “You know my heart and its ways, you who formed me before I was born, in the secret of darkness before I saw the sun in my mother’s womb.”

Isaiah, the prophet, reminds us (49:14-16) that even in those times when we feel forsaken and forgotten by God, God reminds us, “Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you. See, I have you engraved upon the palms of my hands.”

Scriptures, like the ones I have just cited, remind us that God is always with us. Even one of his names, Emmanuel, means “God with us!” The problem then is not whether God is with us or not, but whether we are consciously aware of his presence!

Sometimes the problem is that we are like those on the walk to Emmaus on that first Easter evening. Jesus walks with us, but we fail to recognize him. Thankfully, as we do in every Mass, once the Scriptures are explained to us and we have broken bead together, our eyes can be opened to his presence once again.

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