The Lord is our Refuge and our Strength
Hi SJSP- here is another beautiful reflection from Leo! Enjoy:
Responsorial Psalm Psalm 46:2-3, 5-6, 8-9
R. (8) The Lord of hosts is with us; our stronghold is the God of Jacob. God is our refuge and our strength, an ever-present help in distress. Therefore we fear not, though the earth be shaken and mountains plunge into the depths of the sea. R. The Lord of hosts is with us; our stronghold is the God of Jacob. There is a stream whose runlets gladden the city of God, the holy dwelling of the Most High. God is in its midst; it shall not be disturbed; God will help it at the break of dawn. R. The Lord of hosts is with us; our stronghold is the God of Jacob. The LORD of hosts is with us; our stronghold is the God of Jacob. Come! behold the deeds of the LORD, the astounding things he has wrought on earth. R. The Lord of hosts is with us; our stronghold is the God of Jacob.
This Psalm refers back to the reading from the Book of Ezekiel (Ez 47:1-9, 12), ahead to the gospel reading from John (Jn 5:1-16) and out to our current world situation. We are reminded that the Lord is always with us; the Lord is our stronghold. It’s amazing how relevant the Bible can be thousands of years after it was written!
The reading from Ezekiel is about God’s temple, through which an ever-rising river flows. The river’s water brings life to all creatures with which it comes into contact; the trees along the river’s banks also are enlivened by its water. The second verse of the responsorial psalm speaks to this reading, noting that there is a “stream whose runlets gladden the city of God”. The gospel from John is about the pools at Bethesda, pools that have moving water that are thought to have restorative powers. Jesus heals a man there, giving him instruction to “pick up your mat and walk”. The third verse of the psalm, which exhorts us to “Come! Behold the deeds of the LORD…”, certainly points to the gospel reading. On a side note, I couldn’t help but think about the gospel reading from the Third Sunday of Lent, where Jesus tells the Samaritan woman at the well that he is the water of life. I believe that in today’s gospel Jesus is also the living water…one that heals, however, rather than one that satisfies a person’s thirst. The reading from Ezekiel and the gospel reading from John complement each other nicely, as both talk about the life-giving quality of water. (Anyone for baptism?) Finally, the first verse of the psalm speaks to our current world situation; perhaps we could pray it regularly to remind ourselves that God is our “ever-present help in distress”.
While it may reference another text from the Book of Revelation, here’s a quiet, meditative version of Shall We Gather at the River (performed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir) which helps us to know that together, with each other and with the saints, we experience the presence of God.