Saturday, 25 February 2012

Receptive listening: Introduction to Psalm 118/4


The last section of Pope Benedict XVI’s catechesis on Psalm 118 that I want to share with you by way of introduction to the psalm deals with the idea of the ‘receptive listening’ that leads to obedience.

It’s a very Benedictine sentiment, reflection not just the current Pope’s spirituality, but that of his namesake St Benedict:


“The Law of the Lord, the object of the passionate love of the Psalmist as well as of every believer, is a source of life. The desire to understand it, to observe it and to direct the whole of one’s being by it is the characteristic of every righteous person who is faithful to the Lord, and who “on his law... meditates day and night”, as Psalm 1 recites (v. 2). The law of God is a way to be kept “in the heart”, as the well known text of the Shema in Deuteronomy says: “Hear, O Israel: And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise” (6:4, 6-7).

The Law of God, at the centre of life, demands that the heart listen. It is a listening that does not consist of servile but rather of filial, trusting and aware obedience. Listening to the word is a personal encounter with the Lord of life, an encounter that must be expressed in concrete decisions and become a journey and a “sequela”. When Jesus is asked what one should do to inherit eternal life he points to the way of observance of the Law but indicates what should be done to bring it to completion: “but you lack one thing; go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me! (Mk 10: 21ff.). Fulfilment of the Law is the following of Jesus, travelling on the road that Jesus took, in the company of Jesus.

Psalm 119 thus brings us to the encounter with the Lord and orients us to the Gospel.”

Today’s verses

And here are some verses to ponder today that particularly deal with this theme:

9 By what does a young man correct his way? By observing your words.
35. Lead me into the path of your commandments; for this same I have desired.
66 Teach me goodness and discipline and knowledge; for I have believed your commandments.
11 Your words have I hidden in my heart, that I may not sin against you.
104 By your commandments I have had understanding: therefore have I hated every way of iniquity.
103 How sweet are your words to my palate! More than honey to my mouth.
116 Uphold me according to your word, and I shall live: and let me not be confounded in my expectation.
32 I have run the way of your commandments, when you did enlarge my heart.

You can fnd a slightly expanded version of this post, including the Latin of today's verses, over at the Psalm blog.

From Monday I'll start posting the psalm stanza by stanza (lingering over a couple), with some notes on the Latin over at the psalm blog.

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