Friday, January 02, 2009

New calendar, fresh hopes for 2009

That's the great thing about New Year's: the new calendar opens out before you like an open road, or like a fresh canvas. It's all potential.
The Lord has invited me to focus on praise in a special way during 2009. No matter how 2009 turns out for me, humanly speaking, the Lord will still be worthy of all praise. Life isn't long enough for all the praise God deserves from us anyway!
The Psalms are a great school of praise. Today's responsorial is still Psalm 98 (we hear it all through the Christmas season). The verses for today read like the Magnificat in many ways, and would sound perfectly from Mary's lips: "Sing (I can do that!) to the Lord a new song." Why? "For he has done wondrous deeds; has won the victory with his right hand; made known his salvation; revealed his justice; remembered his kindness and faithfulness."
Look at all those verbs: the attention is all on what God has done, from five different angles. This is a lesson for me not to be satisfied with coming up with just one expression of praise, as if a single phrase could tell the whole story. The psalmist is telling me to find fuller and richer and more encompassing ways to express admiration for what God has done. Isn't this also the height of missionary activity? "I will proclaim the goodness of your name" (Ps. 55): missionary life is not a matter of "imposing" one's belief system on victims of cultural or religious oppression, but the proclamation of the sheer goodness we have come to know through the things he has done. It's "praise reaching beyond heaven and earth" (Ps. 48).

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