Psalm for the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

Psalm 145: 8-9, 15-16, 17-18

The responsorial psalm for this week is a hymn of praise of the greatness of God. Interestingly, the full psalm is in acrostic form, meaning that every verse begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

The five psalms that precede this one (Psalms 140-144) are all petitionary prayers; this psalm and the five that follow it (the last six psalms in the Book of Psalms) are all hymns of praise.

The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness.
The LORD is good to all and compassionate toward all his works.

The opening acclamation is closely associated with God’s revelation of himself to Moses when he re-established the covenant with the people (Exodus 34:6). God is described as gracious (hannûn), compassionate (rahûm), and filled with lovingkindness (hesed), which are all technical terms used in covenant language.

Note that God’s divine goodness is not reserved for Israel alone but is extended to “all his works,” including all people and all of natural creation. The historical covenant has been expanded to a universal embrace.

The eyes of all look hopefully to you, and you give them their food in due season; you open your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing.

The psalm turns to speak directly to God, proclaiming the LORD’s universal providence, one of the most prominent of his characteristics.

Using vivid imagery, the psalmist illustrates how all creation relies on God’s protective care. Everything that has been created stands needy and trusting before God, in whose hands is found the sustenance upon which life depends, and God is openhanded in satisfying this need. The image bespeaks the confidence creation has in God and the tender concern God has toward creation.

The image of the hand of the Lord feeding us is particularly poignant this Sunday, as we hear the gospel reading of the feeding of the five thousand.

The LORD is just in all his ways and holy in all his works.

Finally, the basis of God’s loving attention is proclaimed. God’s covenant commitment is revealed as justice (sedeq) and lovingkindness (hesed). These constitute the source of God’s provident care and the firm foundation upon which the faithful ones can trust.

The LORD is near to all who call upon him, to all who call upon him in truth.

A third covenant characteristic is truth (ěmet). Here, it refers to the firmness or constancy with which the faithful rely on God. They can rely on God because God has entered into a solemn agreement with them, has made serious promises to them, and can be depended on to be faithful. In order to experience the benefits of this covenant, one needs only to call upon God, who is always there to hear.

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