Daily Reflection
October 25th, 1999
Thomas Krettek, S.J.
Department of Philosophy
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Romans 8:12-17
Psalm 68:2, 4, 6-7, 20-21
Luke 13:10-17

In the Christian proclamation of faith, we affirm, “We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life.”  We profess that God gives life.  This so accurately characterizes God that for St. Irenaeus, "The Glory of God is a human being fully alive."  The life-giving reality of God orients the whole dynamic of prayer in the book of Psalms.  Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, the Cardinal Archbishop of Milan and a scripture scholar, says that the whole of the Psalter can be divided into psalms of praise and psalms of lament.  Psalms of praise express the fully aliveness of a human being, while psalms of lament express the human cry when life diminishes.  As Cardinal Martini says, "For the Bible, for the psalms, to praise is to live.  And so not to praise is not to live. . . Death is not praise of God, because not praising is the same as not living, not living the life which is God's gift, to be returned in praise."

This dynamic reflects the rhythm of prayer and the experience of our relation to God.  Today’s responsorial psalm, #68, is a prime example of a psalm of praise.  It proclaims what God is through what God does and the response of those who experience what God does.  “Blessed day by day be the Lord, who bears our burdens; God, who is our salvation. God is a saving God for us; the Lord, my Lord, controls the passageways of death.”  This same insight is what Paul strives to convey in his letter to the Romans.  God gives life and those who experience God’s Spirit at work in their lives experience a kind of freedom unlike any other.

Psalms of lament also acknowledge that God is a giver of life.  Enemies in the psalms are the people without God, who make the world to be without God.  They diminish my life and others’ lives.  Psalms of lament express the attitude of the person who is reaching out for God in the midst of his or her enemies.  God is not on the side of the enemies of life.  This is clear from the story in the Gospel.

The woman’s response of standing up straight and thanking God indicates that she has received healing, freedom and life from Jesus.  She has experienced through Jesus what God does.  The onlookers who “rejoiced at the marvels Jesus was accomplishing,” also experienced through Jesus what God does.  Those who respond by becoming indignant and who were covered with confusion, failed to understand and accept that God gives life.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  Let us pray that we become better at understanding and accepting that God gives life so that the people God places along our path might experience through those who believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, what God is and so does.

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