A song of ascents. Of David.
I rejoiced when they said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the LORD.”
Notice here the psalmist is not alone. He has been joined by others who are also on their way to the Temple.
There is excitement in the air. You can almost see if you close your eyes. The path is crowded with people, chattering excitedly about their destination. People find their feet seem to be a little lighter.
We are meant to praise God together. At the end of the day the Church is a place of encounter, both with Christ and with the Mystical Body of Christ which we are a part of. And we are called to live and laugh, cry and shout, and most definitely to love with our faith community. The journey is not an inconvenience and neither arethe people on it with us.
Lord enkindle in us a fire and a desire for closer communion with you and our neighbors as we continue on our journey.
And now our feet are standing
within your gates, Jerusalem.
In the previous reflections, the psalmist was looking off in the distance. The city of David and the Temple of God were still far away. But now, at last, he has arrived, safe and sound, to the very gates of Jerusalem. All the hardships of the Devil, all the interior struggles and physical hardships have brought him at last to the gates of the City.
Lord, we stand before you and marvel at the greatness of your love and care for us.
Jerusalem, built as a city,
walled round about.
There the tribes go up,
the tribes of the LORD,
As it was decreed for Israel,
to give thanks to the name of the LORD.
Before it was the city of David, before the Lord came to dwell in the Temple that Solomon built, the city was a stronghold for the Caananites and Jebusites.
When the Israelites took the city it was consecrated to God, directed to a new purpose and given new strength and unity. This is not a bunch of isolated tents and buildings which just happen to be placed next to each other. This is a city “walled round about,” protected, united and made strong by their singular devotion to God. The people are bound together by bands of love and devotion for God. There is no greater bond.
Lord, let nothing divide us. May we work towards unity with one another so that we may praise you ever more.
There are the thrones of justice,
the thrones of the house of David.
Jerusalem is the capitol city and it is here that people go to have their cases heard and justice decreed. Do we take our cases, our lives and the many situations contained in them, to the Lord? More than likely, instead of going to God, we assume that we are wise enough, prudent enough, just enough and that we can handle everything ourselves. That's a lie.
We need God.
We need to bring to God the difficulties and troubles of our lives. There is nothing so shameful that we cannot entrust it to God. He breathed life into you and I and His love sustains us at all times.
Lord, help us to trust in your justice and to chase after it.
For the peace of Jerusalem pray:
“May those who love you prosper!
May peace be within your ramparts,
prosperity within your towers.”
For the sake of my brothers and friends I say,
“Peace be with you.”
We are asked now to pray for peace and prosperity. This peace is not merely an absence of violence or active hate, but a true peace making. Do we seek out reconciliation with God and neighbor when it is easier to do otherwise? Do we actively seek to befriend and dialogue with those with whom we disagree? Do we pray for them?
Th next time you pray, imagine this: Place in your mind a portrait of someone who you do not want to pray for at all and ask the Lord that they might have peace and even prosperity.
Peace is hard. It requires constant effort. But we must always trust the Lord. After all, he is the Prince of Peace.
Lord, give us the strength to pursue peace and to offer this prayer for all who need it.
For the sake of the house of the LORD, our God,
I pray for your good.
It is not enough for the City of God (the Church) to simply be a place where everyone stays in their personal silos and ecosystems. We must go, as the Dominican priest Fr. Samuel Mazzuchelli said, to the difficult places and do the difficult things. If we are to live in and be part of the City of God we must pray for peace and true peace only comes from unity.
If the Church is truly the House of the Lord than we must make it fitting for Him. We must bring together the poor and the needy, the lost and the homeless, and everyone in need. And this is not a careless seeking. No. The Psalmist confirms his commitment to God and ends with by saying resolutely ‘I pray for your good.”
This is not a careless and lightweight offering. When we pray for someone, when we actively seek their good in relation to God, we are choosing to drink deeply from the Cup of Salvation. Christ sought our good so much he offered his life.
Lord, help us to pray for the good of each other and to place their good and the good of the Church above our own good. Amen.
Dominican Friars of St. Louis, MO
The Dominican Friars living at St. Dominic Priory in St. Louis, MO are members of both the Central U.S. Province and the Southern U.S. Province. Our student friars go through their formation together at the St. Louis Studium, otherwise known as the House of Studies.