Scripture for the Sick or Dying: Psalm 123:1-2

The CDWDS has released some readings for this time of pandemic. With many restrictions on the celebration of Mass, it would seem that most parishes will not take advantage of this. Many, including mine, scramble to offer a Sunday Mass. I believe my archbishop has a daily Mass that is available online. I would say that a cleric who is in a position to pray Mass online daily might take use of these prayers and readings.

Psalm 123, the second option, is already part of the Pastoral Care Lectionary. For the Mass in the Time of Pandemic, two possible antiphons are given:

Have mercy on us, Lord,
have mercy.

Our eyes are fixed on the Lord,
pleading for his mercy.

The first of these is based on verse 3 of this very brief psalm. The second, from the last half of verse 2. Verse 4 is omitted.

Just two stanzas are offered–that’s all the psalmist gave us:

To you I lift up my eyes,
who are enthroned in heaven.
Behold, as the eyes of servants
are on the hands of their masters.

As the eyes of a maid
are on the hand of her mistress,
So our eyes are on the LORD our God,
till he have pity on us.

The 123rd is the fourth of the fifteen Songs of Ascents. This was pilgrimage music for the journey to the Temple. “I lift up my eyes,” that is similar to Psalm 121. There, the psalmist beholds the mountains–the place of encounter with God, the place of Jerusalem. Here, the prayer is directly to God in heaven, not where he is thought to be found in the heights of planet Earth.

And then we switch to the relationship of servants to aristocracy. And we are drawn into this picture with the image of ourselves as servants of the Lord our God. We wait for his pity. Or his mercy.

It’s a small text, easy to overlook in the midst of neighbors (the 122nd, the 126th, the 130th) that get quite a bit more play and song in the Christian liturgy. For this time of pandemic, it seems the chief thing we can do is wait, and pray for mercy.

For an in-depth treatment of the Pastoral Care rites, check this page that outlines our examination from a decade ago.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in Pastoral Care of the Sick, Scripture. Bookmark the permalink.

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