Today’s saint – St Jerome – was renown for the phrase “Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.” I said that this should be a major motivation to pray with the Bible more often, beginning either with the Mass readings of the day or of the Sunday. The cross that we make on our foreheads, lips and heart as we prepare for the Gospel reading at Mass reminds us of our aspiration that God’s Word would be reflected upon in our mind, spoken from our lips and treasured in our hearts. The ambo from which the readings are proclaimed are a second table from which we are fed at Mass, in addition to the table of the Eucharistic sacrifice. A commentary like BIBLE ALIVE helps us break open the readings and enhances our overall knowledge of the Scriptures.
I additionally said that today’s psalm 87/88 which also features in Friday’s NIGHT PRAYER is seen by the Church as expressive of Christ’s anguish during such times as the Agony in the Garden when he sweat blood and when he said ‘My God, my God why have you abandoned me’ on the Cross. A primary aspect of this anguish was the taking on of all our sins and the resulting alienation from God the Father. This is the universalis translation of Psalm.
Lord God, my saviour,
I have cried out to you by day and by night.
Let my prayer come before you:
turn your ear to my request.
For my soul is full of evils,
my life has come close to its end.
I am counted with those who go down to the pit:
I am left without help.
I am one of the dead,
like the murdered who sleep in their tombs,
who lie there forgotten,
cut off from your care.
You have thrust me down into the pit,
to the gloom and the shadow of death.
Your anger weighs heavy upon me;
you have drowned me under your waves.
You have taken my friends away from me:
you have made me hateful in their sight,
I am shut in, I may not go out.
My eyes are weak from my sufferings.
I have called to you, Lord, all the day;
I have stretched out my hands to you.
Is it for the dead that you perform your wonders?
Will the ghosts rise up and proclaim you?
In the tomb, will they tell of your kindness?
Will they tell of your faithfulness in the place of the lost?
Will your wonders be known in the darkness,
or your righteousness in the land of oblivion?
And so I have called out to you, Lord,
and in the morning my prayer will come before you.
With what purpose, Lord, do you reject my soul?
Why do you hide your face from me?
I am poor; from my youth I have been dying;
I have borne the terrors you sent, I am lost in confusion.
Your anger has overrun me, your terrors have broken me:
they have flowed round me like water,
they have besieged me all the day long.
You have taken my friends and those close to me:
all I have left is shadows.