Psalm for the 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

Psalm 112:4-9

Our responsorial psalm for this week comes from Psalm 112, a Wisdom psalm detailing the blessings received by those who remain close to God by obedience to the commandments.

Wisdom teaching arises from the insights gleaned from the successful living of life. It draws attention to the interaction between everyday life and the religious experience.

Light shines through the darkness for the upright; he is gracious and merciful and just. All goes well for the man who is gracious and lends, who conducts his affairs with justice.

The image of the righteous person is placed before us for our imitation. This image is grounded in the theology of retribution, the theory that claims the virtuous will be rewarded and the wicked will be punished.

The righteous or upright (yāshār) are said to be gracious (hannûn), merciful (rahûm), and just (saddîq). These are characteristics that belong to God, which are now manifested in those who obey him.

He shall never be moved; the just one shall be in everlasting remembrance. An evil report he shall not fear; his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD.

The blessings bestowed on those who remain close to God include light in the midst of darkness, well-being, security, remembrance even after death, fearlessness, and the acclaim of others.

His heart is steadfast; he shall not fear.

Although reward is promised for upright living, these blessings do not come without a price. The psalm carries a suggestion that a righteous person has been repudiated but that this repudiation has been challenged.

This would be a very serious situation in a society that holds to a strict honor/shame code. Because of the vital role that community plays in the safety and prosperity of the psalmist, loss of status within that community would certainly be something to fear.

However, the righteous one described here does not submit to such fear. This isn’t due to their own personal courage but rather their trust in God.

Lavishly he gives to the poor; his justice shall endure forever; his horn shall be exalted in glory.

These divine characteristics manifest themselves in God’s human covenant partners. The upright are righteous precisely because they mirror the nature of the God with whom they are in covenant.

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