Tomorrow, we get a second pause in a long liturgical season of purple. Nine months before Christmas, we start a countdown to the Nativity, and if your parish is on the ball, you might even get to sing the Gloria.
Looking ahead to tomorrow’s readings, I noticed the psalm, the 40th, one line struck me:
I have made no secret of your kindness and your truth in the vast assembly. (40:11)
I profess not to be proof-texting on this, just commenting on that lovely piece from the Psalter. I think it a loss that Psalm 40 was not selected as a Common Psalm in the Lectionary. I think of it as a hymn to discipleship par excellence.
Our faith is no secret from anyone, we tell the Lord. Look over that whole psalm and notice: we get into trouble; we remember God’s deeds for others and for us; we worship; we acknowledge our neediness–and all through that, at the climax of the piece in verse 11, we acknowledge we have never made our regard for God a hidden thing. And that vast assembly? It is nothing less than the entire planet.
The Lectionary puts a stirring mission statement on our lips:
Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
Mary was prepared, and when God’s messenger announced a plan, she echoed the Psalmist from her tradition–the thread of Psalm 40 is there to be found in the Magnificat. We’ve had five weeks since Ash Wednesday as of this feast. What has this done for us? Have we encountered God? Are we prepared to place our experiences at his feet, then take up our cross and follow? Are we prepared to be pilgrims, as Mary and Joseph were? Are we prepared to give an unconditional yes to God? If not, there are still eight days till the Triduum. No secrets, friends–not between us disciples.
The image above is from the Stella Maris chapel across the lake from St John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota.