Thursday, May 3, 2018

The Psalm that Brought him Home

In case you missed it, check out this piece from the National Catholic Registerabout Psalm 88.

We read Psalm 88 every Friday night at Compline. You know, it's the one that ends, "Friend and neighbor you have taken away, my one companion is darkness."

It's the ultimate example of how the psalms are the perfect antidote to the twisted notion that a Real Saint absolutely enjoys suffering, offering fervent thanks to God whenever it occurs and begging Him for even more. And conversely, that if we complain to God and question His plans during our hours of darkness, we are bad, bad, bad!

Nope. It's not so simple. This author points out:

As I sat in that waiting room reading these words over and over again, new shades of meaning emerged, along with new questions, the most pressing of all being, “How did this get in the Bible?” It’s a rebuke to everything we learned in Sunday school about faith in a loving God. That’s because the Psalm is incomplete on its own. The circle of meaning remained open, a question like those asked by the Psalmist and so many other writers of the Old Testament. Only in the fullness of time would the meaning be clear. The Psalm was completed on calvary. The pit of darkness was not and could not be the end because Christ climbed back out of it.
The words of Psalm 88—like the words of all the Psalms—are spoken by Christ himself. And if the Son of God can hurl this howl of rage and despair at His Father, along with the other hymns of praise and doubt and thanksgiving and lamentation, then all the experience of humanity—its wonders and horrors, joys and sorrows—are inscribed in the flesh of Christ. In writing the entire world in flesh, God gave all of it new meaning, new life.