Psalm 22 is a wonderful passage of Sacred Scripture to pray with, I highly recommend it for prayer in the seasons of Lent and Easter.

Psalm 22 is classified as a Lament. It is also the Psalm that Jesus quotes during His crucifixion, some 5 minutes before He dies.  This psalm is also a prophecy of Jesus and His crucifixion, there are 5 verses that are fully understood only in light of the passion of Jesus.

Verse 1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lama sabach-thani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”(Matthew 27:46)

7 All who see me mock at me, they make mouths at me, they wag their heads;
And those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads, and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross!” (Matthew 27:39-40)

8 “He committed his cause to the LORD; let him deliver him, let him rescue him, for he delights in him.”
He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him; for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’ ” (Matthew 27:43)

16 Yes, dogs are round about me; a company of evildoers encircle me;
they have pierced my hands and feet—
And when they had crucified him… (Matthew 27:35)

17 I can count all my bones—they stare and gloat over me;

18 they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.
…they divided his garments among them by casting lots (Matthew 27:35)

 

In addition to the specific verses that are a prophecy of Jesus, there is something special about this Lament. The last 10 verses of totally different than the first 21. In verse 22, the entire essence of the Psalm changes from a Lament to a Praise! So verses 1 to 21 are best understood with a point of reference of Good Friday afternoon, and verses 22 to 31 are best understood with a reference of Easter Sunday afternoon.

Five minutes from His death, Jesus is still teaching us. We always need to have a vision, an understanding of the great gift of what an eternity with Jesus will be like: an eternal praise of the Holy Trinity.

The Eucharist is the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus, He his really and truly present,  that is the reality.

St. Augustine explains the symbolism:

“ ‘The Body of Christ,’ you are told, and you answer ‘Amen.’ Be members then of the Body of Christ so that your Amen may be true! Why is this mystery accomplished with bread?… Consider that the bread is not made of one grain, but of many. During the time of exorcism [before baptism], you were, so to say, in the mill. When you were baptized you were wetted with water. Then the Holy Spirit came into you like the fire that bakes the dough. Be then what you see and receive what you are.”  (St. Augustine, Sermon 272)

I am currently leading a Bible Study class for my Parish, an 11 week course on the Psalms. (This is the 5th Bible Study I am leading.) Note: The class materials are purchased from a company and are excellent, more information here.

I provide for the students additional material, to help them learn. Since we are in Lent I wrote a short, two page commentary on Psalm 51. This commentary is available on the right side of the blog in the section labeled “My Documents”.

The Rule of St. Augustine has a very short chapter on prayer, just four parts, this is part one:

Be assiduous in prayer (Colossians 4:2), at the hours and times appointed.

What does it mean to be assiduous in prayer?
Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines assiduous as “marked by careful unremitting attention or persistent application”.

Do you have a specific time of the day to pray? (Upon waking, after dinner, before sleep?)
Are are you persistent in keeping that time?
Do you give Jesus (or God the Father or The Holy Spirit) your unremitting attention while you pray?

While talking to God, or praying throughout the day is a great practice, having a specific time to grow in relationship with or just relax in the presence of the Holy Trinity is something that everyone should do. No matter when you pray or how long you pray for, the choice is yours but make the decision to have a specific time to pray. Then be assiduous about your prayer.

“He prays for us, as our Priest; He prays in us as our Head; he is prayed to by us, as our God.”

(St. Augustine, from a Sermon on Psalm 86, “Expositions on the Book of Psalms”)

 

My notes:
This is a brilliant summary from St. Augustine of how Jesus prays.
As our Priest: “A priest is an authorized mediator who offers sacrifice to God on behalf of others, Christ is the perfect priest, for he is perfectly united to God in His divinity and fully united to us in His humanity,” (Scott Hahn, ed., Catholic Bible Dictionary (New York; London; Toronto; Sydney; Auckland: Doubleday, 2009), page 725.) See the Catechism of the Catholic Church #1544 for more details.

As our Head: This is from St. Paul’s theology of the relationship between Jesus and His church, Jesus is the head and we are the body. For more details see 1st Corinthians chapter 12.

As our God: Jesus prays by receiving our prayers. The knowledge of and understanding of Jesus as the second person of the Holy Trinity defines as as Christians. It is the essence of who and what we are.

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)

You are praising God when you do your days work. You are praising him when you eat and drink. You are praising Him when you rest on your bed. You are praising him when you are asleep. So when are you not praising Him? (Augustine Day by Day, Catholic Book Publishing Co. 1986, page 27)

My notes: While St. Augustine is giving a commentary on Psalm 147, he diverts into St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. St. Augustine makes the point that both the Psalm and St. Paul teach that everything we do should be a praise of God (praising God is what we hope to be doing for all eternity…). I could add a few modern examples: pray when driving your car, when heating food in the microwave oven, when walking down a hallway at work or a walking in a parking lot, or when cutting the grass, shoveling snow or washing dishes. There are lots of opportunities during the course of a typical day to pray and praise God.

For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will.  John 5:21.

WeHaveBecomeChrist

 

My notes:  The quote above is from St. Augustine’s Lectures on the Gospel of John (21,8), on the verse above.  The question Augustine asks if profound: Do you understand what God’s grace really is? The gift of the Holy Spirit, eternal life!

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