Jesus prayed the Psalms daily and Prayer satisfies our Longings

Homily for the Thirteenth Sunday of Year C

by Fr. Tommy Lane

What prayers did Jesus say every day? The Rosary didn’t exist at the time of Jesus. The Psalms were the prayers Jesus prayed every day. There are 150 Psalms and many Jews would have known most of them off by heart. Because the Psalms were the prayers that Jesus used every day, I think we should pay more attention to them. Some of the Psalms are very beautiful, like the Psalm in today’s Mass.

Can I ask you is there any emptiness in your life? Is there any lack of fulfillment in your life? Money, riches or possessions won’t fill that gap or space. In 1982 an article appeared in Reader’s Digest. It was about an advertising executive. In spite of her successful career, she felt an emptiness in her life. One morning, during a breakfast meeting with her marketing consultant, she mentioned that emptiness. “Do you want to fill it?” her colleague asked. “Of Course I do,” she said. He looked at her and replied, “Then start each day with an hour of prayer.” She looked at him and said, “Don, you’ve got to be kidding. If I tried that, I’d go off my rocker.” Her friend smiled and said, “That’s exactly what I said 20 years ago.” Then he said something else that really made her think. He said “You’re trying to fit God into your life. Instead you should be trying to make your life revolve around God.” The woman left the restaurant in turmoil. Begin each morning with prayer? Begin each morning with an hour of prayer? Absolutely out of the question! Yet, the next morning she found herself doing exactly that. And she’s been doing it ever since. The woman is the first to admit that it has not always been easy. There have been mornings when she was filled with great peace and joy. But there have been other mornings when she was filled with nothing but weariness. And it was on these weary mornings that she remembered something else that her marketing consultant said. “There will be times when your mind just won’t go into God’s sanctuary. That’s when you spend your hour in God’s waiting room. Still, you’re there, and God appreciates your struggle to stay there.”

(I found a synopsis of the Reader's Digest article in Illustrated Sunday Homilies Year C/Series 1 (page 78) by Fr. Mark Link, S.J.)

That story about the advertising executive finding her emptiness filled with prayer reminds me of that beautiful Psalm in today’s Mass. In many different ways the Psalm says that only in God will we find the happiness we are seeking. (Here I ask the congregation to follow the Psalm of today’s Mass (Ps 16).  I quote the first two verses of the Psalm commenting ad lib on each line somewhat similar to the following though in more detail and repeating the line from the Psalm after the comment:)

(Psalm) ‘Preserve me, God, I take refuge in you.’
(Comment) When I am in trouble I turn to God for help who is my refuge and I say to God, ‘Preserve me.’

(Psalm) ‘I say to the Lord: “You are my God.”’
(Comment) Lord God, you are my only hope, you are the only one who can help me.

(Psalm) ‘O Lord, it is you who are my portion and cup;
it is you yourself who are my prize.’
(Comment) Lord God you alone can satisfy me and I am deluded if I think the pleasures of this world will bring me fulfillment.

(Psalm) ‘I will bless the Lord who gives me counsel.’
(Comment) I thank you, Lord, that on those occasions when I did not know what to do, you helped me arrive at a decision, often with the help and advice of another. I bless you Lord for giving me counsel.

(Psalm) ‘I will bless the Lord who gives me counsel,
who even at night directs my heart.’
(Comment) I thank you Lord that even when I sleep you look after my whole being at every moment.

(Psalm) ‘I keep the Lord ever in my sight.’
(Comment) Lord, I try to love you above all else, with my whole heart, soul, mind and strength.

(Psalm) ‘since he is at my right hand, I shall stand firm.’
(Comment) I do not fear the future and will not fear no matter what happens because you are at my right hand and you will help me to stand firm.

(Then I repeat the first two verses of the Psalm once again and now they should mean much more to the congregation.) I would like to encourage you to find time to pray every day, like Jesus who prayed the Psalms, and like the advertising executive. Time spent in prayer is not time wasted, but is deeply rewarding. It is only what you would expect. What better companion to meet every day than God. St. Augustine wrote, “You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.” I conclude with the words of the Psalm:

Preserve me, God, I take refuge in you.
I say to the Lord: “You are my God.”
O Lord, it is you who are my portion and cup;
it is you yourself who are my prize. (Ps 16)

Copyright © Fr. Tommy Lane 2013

This homily was delivered when I was engaged in parish ministry in Ireland before joining the faculty of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, Maryland.

More for the Thirteenth Sunday Year C

Related Homilies: Vocation - Jesus doesn’t call the ready, he calls the willing

Vocation Stories in the Bible - Answering God’s Call

For more on the theme of the homily above listen to my meditation on Psalm 63 mp3 from a recording I made now no longer available. Also see my homily Are You Happy?