The Shepherd’s Voice, Sept. 10

That God has a sense of humor is not in doubt, I think.  But I do think we often overlook how sarcastic the Almighty is.  Today’s responsorial psalm is evidence of it.  Psalm 95 is heard occasionally at Mass, but is part of the Church’s liturgy every day, in that it is prayed as part of the Liturgy of the Hours.  Many of you are already familiar with the Liturgy of the Hours, either because you pray it yourselves, or because you’ve prayed it with us at a function here at the parish.  For the uninitiated, then, some explanation: the Liturgy of the Hours is the official set of prayers marking the hours of each day and sanctifying the day with prayer.  The day is broken into five “hours”: Morning, Daytime, Evening, and Night Prayer, and the Office of Readings.  Generally, the hours consist of a hymn, some psalms and canticles, and sometimes some intercessions.  The office of readings has psalms, and then longer readings from Scripture and other theological sources.

The day can start with either morning prayer or, traditionally, the office of readings.  In either case, before starting the first hour of the day, one prays what is called an invitatory psalm, something to get the day started.  And in most cases, it’s Psalm 95.  By no stretch of the imagination can I be called a morning person, so I imagine God gets a good laugh of hearing me groan, yawn, and mumble my way through lines like, “Come, let us sing joyfully to the Lord; let us acclaim the rock of our salvation.  Let us come into His presence with thanksgiving; let us joyfully sing psalms to Him.”  I’m hardly joyful, I’m certainly not acclaiming anything, and we all know I can’t sing.

The psalm isn’t about the person praying it, though.  It’s about the One being praised.  Psalm 95 is one of the “Royal Psalms,” praising the Lord for being the King of His people.  A just, merciful, and loving King.  And if giving thanks and praise to Him isn’t one of the first things that pops into our heads every morning, well…shouldn’t it be?

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