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

Psalm 145: 8-9, 15-18

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.

Technical covenant language abounds here. God is described as gracious (hannûn), compassionate (rahûm), and filled with lovingkindness (hesed).

This correlates with how God described himself at his revelation to Moses in Exodus 34:6.

The LORD is good to all and compassionate toward all his works.

Note that this divine goodness is not reserved for Israel alone but is extended to all God’s works, including all people and all of natural creation. The 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 psalmist now speaks directly to God, proclaiming the Lord’s universal providence. With 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.

The Lord’s is a kingdom of justice (sedeq) in the sense that he responds with kindness and salvation to all those who invoke him and love him, and allows those who hate him to perish (verse 20, which is not included in this passage).

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

Another characteristic of God’s covenant 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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