Friday, November 2, 2012

For with the Lord Is Kindness and Plenteous Redemption: Day 22 of 31 Days of Falling by Faith

"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul."
—Psalm 23:1-3
Today was All Souls Day—a day on which the Catholic Church especially acknowledges the souls of all those who have died in the faith before us. The psalm prayed at Mass was Psalm 23.

A couple of years ago I drove alone from Lancaster County to northern New Jersey to attend the funeral of a woman who had died of ovarian cancer. It was a heartbreaking occasion. She was not much older than fifty and had been married only three years to a longtime friend of mine. It had been the only marriage for each of them. They had waited a long time to find each other. Now she was gone.

The funeral was Jewish, because they were. I may have been the only non-Jew at the service and cemetery. I'd never been to a Jewish funeral before.

The service began with the reading of a succession of many scriptures, each first in Hebrew, then in English. After one of the readings in Hebrew, the rabbi invited everyone to join in saying out loud in English the 23rd Psalm. I began reciting it with them, and discovered that I could remember every word of it. I prayed it, with my eyes closed. Before we were done I was crying.

I remember thinking that during his thirty-three years on Earth, Jesus must have attended many funerals at which he would have heard, read, and recited these same scriptures. I felt him there with us that day as much as I've ever felt his presence anywhere else.
Out of the depths I cry to You, O Lord; Lord, hear my voice.
Let Your ears be attentive to my voice in supplication.
If You, O Lord, mark iniquities, Lord, who can stand?
But with You is forgiveness, that You may be revered.
I trust in the Lord; my soul trusts in His word.
My soul waits for the Lord more than sentinels wait for the dawn.
More than sentinels wait for the dawn, let Israel wait for the Lord,
For with the Lord is kindness and with Him is plenteous redemption;
And He will redeem Israel from all their iniquities.

—From Psalm 130
Amen.

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