This week I will attempt to ‘thread’ the three scriptures readings into

TODAY’S PSALM [27 or 26]. This powerful prayer helps us to deepen our heartfelt acceptance and understanding of what our approach to the Christian God should be. We need to cement this in the opening words of the fourth stanza.

“I believe that I shall see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living.”

When we confess our faith in the words of the Apostles’ or Nicene Creeds do our professions include this basic belief that we shall experience (actually feel in our hearts) God’s

GOODNESS in the land of the living? In other words here on earth while we are ALIVE we WILL have the experience provided we actually open our eyes. We do not have to wait for death and heaven. So each one must ask – am I alive to the goodness of God?

It will be helpful, for the sake of clarity, to reproduce the first two stanzas of the Psalm.

“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; who should I dread?

“Lord, hear my voice when I call; have mercy and

answer me. Of you my heart has spoken, Seek his face.”

Recall last week’s emphasis on the essential heart element of faith. We have to feel our need for God’s mercy. It is in reaching out to him from the heart that we open ourselves to the

COVENANT he has made with us. This promise he GIVES to us and we must POSSESS it (make it our very own) in order to bring it to life. So the earlier question is repeated: am I alive to and with the goodness of God? If we carefully read OUR OLD TESTAMENT EXTRACT [GENESIS 15: 5 – 12. 17 – 18] we will surely see that Abraham had specific feelings about the promise the Lord gave to him – and there were doubts and questions. These feelings were abated because the patriarch provided the items God requested – and these were clearly specified: heifer, she-goat and ram, each to be three years old, together with a turtle dove and a young pigeon {as a matter of interest how does one gauge the age of a pigeon?!).

Notice two specific actions undertaken by Abraham. Firstly he had to find the animals and birds requested. He had to seek them out as we have to seek the Lord’s face. Finding the Lord when in need of his mercy and pardon does not happen by accident – and neither does it happen simply through an often tired and casual ‘practise of the faith’ nor routine habits of piety. Abraham was seeking his way through by way of extraordinary efforts. Secondly,

“when birds of prey came down upon the carcasses, (he) drove them away.” Over and over again we have to drive away the suggestions of the cynical and sceptical which attempt to dissuade us from acting on our belief that the Lord is waiting for us to make the move to call upon him as our hearts have spoken to us. “The Lord is my light and salvation, whom shall I fear?” There will always be ‘birds of prey’ hovering over our resolve. They have to be driven away – firmly and resolutely.

In this regard note what Saint Paul tells us in the

NEW TESTAMENT READING [PHILIPPIANS 3: 17 – 4:1] …. “mark those who so walk as you have an example” and drive away those who “walk as enemies of the cross of Christ.” We have to “stand firm in this way in the Lord.” Some sort of change in direction is always needed when our hearts feel the need to seek out our God of mercy or when we resolve to extend our pardon to another. There will always be those who try to convince us that it is a waste of time and that we are just fine as we are. They are the birds of prey who walk as enemies of …Christ.

The three disciples who experienced the transfiguration of Jesus in

TODAY’S GOSPEL [LUKE 9: 28b – 36] had to come down from the mountain and be strong enough to face the preying birds and the Lord’s enemies.

“THE VOICE

had spoken” – now, they had to ACT.

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