The Lord is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
The Lord is good to all,
and his compassion is over all that he has made.
All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord,
and all your faithful shall bless you.
They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom,
and tell of your power,
to make known to all people your mighty deeds,
and the glorious splendour of your kingdom.
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
and your dominion endures throughout all generations.
The Lord is faithful in all his words,
and gracious in all his deeds.
The Lord upholds all who are falling,
and raises up all who are bowed down.
The eyes of all look to you,
and you give them their food in due season.
You open your hand,
satisfying the desire of every living thing.
The Lord is just in all his ways,
and kind in all his doings.
The Lord is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
The Open Compassionate Hand
The world as we know it is extraordinarily diverse, the farther off and only remotely sensed universe even more so. Things we can touch, see, hear, taste, smell and otherwise perceive have many faces: sometimes soft, familiar ones (the muzzle of a pet, textured heads of flowers), sometimes harsh, off-putting ones (fierce storm winds, aggressive insects); some things even seem terrifying (massive icebergs, mountains of the moon, ravening lions). Yet over and over, in life and in Scriptures such as today’s come these glimmers, hints, injunctions that all we know — and do not know — are to be received as from an overwhelmingly loving hand: providing, responding, supporting, nurturing.
It is an Open Hand that both creates and totally enables all that is, including Christ’s dynamic of redemption, human well-being, and all depths of creation: of scudding sky and starlight; heaving oceans and starfish; curving earth and stately trees. All is set in motion, watched over and cared for in compassion, not only for us, but for all that is in being.
The Open Hand places us into a kingdom, a particular order of things, where we can be reassured that this compassionate thrust is upon us and whatever we attempt.
Prayer: Let us reflect on
i) where we clearly sense God’s compassion in our lives and in the world around us
ii) where human affairs hide that compassion from us
iii) where nature and matter make us question the forces behind them
Consider asking for more awareness of God’s activity in our lives, in His world, and in the cosmos we cannot wholly fathom. Seek too for insights as to how to be thankful for, and in greater co-operation with, the creative grace and mercy of God.
A Poem of Opposites:
A frowning providence – a smiling face
A puzzling world – a compassionate interpreter
Our limited perception – His gentle revealing grace
Our stumbling ways – His loving, far-reaching support