Wednesday of Advent 3 – Psalm 146

Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord, O my soul!
I will praise the Lord as long as I live;
    I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.

Put not your trust in princes,
    in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.
When his breath departs, he returns to the earth;
    on that very day his plans perish.

Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
    whose hope is in the Lord his God,
who made heaven and earth,
    the sea, and all that is in them,
who keeps faith forever;
    who executes justice for the oppressed,
    who gives food to the hungry.

The Lord sets the prisoners free;
    the Lord opens the eyes of the blind.
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
    the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the sojourners;
    he upholds the widow and the fatherless,
    but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.

10 The Lord will reign forever,
    your God, O Zion, to all generations.
Praise the Lord!

He was a bright fellow, an attorney who had attended a good school and had a successful practice. He told a story of his youth during the heady days of the 1960’s. He spoke of having so much hope and expectation of change and a new world dawning. He said if you were a guy with a certain look, a beard and longish hair, not the square haircut of the conformists, you immediately had a brotherhood with all the others who were part of the movement.

But then came Charles Manson who also had the look and whose movement committed such atrocious crimes. But there were other things too: the race riots, the assassinations of Dr. King, JFK and RFK. There were the young people emptied out by LSD and other drugs, sitting by the roads with vacant stares. It all changed. You saw the guy with the beard and the bandana, and the brotherhood was gone. You did not know anymore. He said he had an overwhelming sense of disappointment in those days. He had such high hopes, They were dashed.

Put not your trust in princes, says the psalmist, in a human being in whom there is no salvation. They will always disappoint you. This psalm speaks wisdom. They cannot save us from what really afflicts us. They may promise much, but at best they can help us cope with our smaller problems. When death comes, when sin destroys, these false helpers are without help to offer. My attorney friend is now a member of a parish, one of those guys who is almost always there, sitting in the same pew, singing the hymns, and confessing the creed. Blessed is the man whose hope is in God. The day comes when this man’s considerable power, knowledge, office, and station in life will leave him, rendering him poor and helpless before the grave. He knows that, but he also trusts the One who can help him that day. His Lord Jesus made heaven and earth. He keeps faith forever. He frees the prisoners, cares for the little and least, opens the eyes of the blind, and upholds the orphaned and widowed. He reigns forever.

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