Wednesday of Christ the King – Psalm 95:1-7a

1 Oh come, let us sing to the Lord;
    let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
    let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
For the Lord is a great God,
    and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth;
    the heights of the mountains are his also.
The sea is his, for he made it,
    and his hands formed the dry land.

Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
    let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!
For he is our God,
    and we are the people of his pasture,
    and the sheep of his hand.

If you grew up singing the order of Matins on Sunday mornings, you might be familiar with these words. This psalm has long been sung as a canticle called the Venite. It has served to begin the psalmody for most monastic communities for well over 1000 years. Every morning the monks, friars, or nuns gather, and they begin with this psalm. These words have worked their way deeply into the hearts of minds of God’s people. Martin Luther as a monk sang them every day.

I am reminded today of Margaret of Costello, an Italian Dominican who was born in Perugia, Italy in 1287. She was born to noble parents but also with several severe physical problems . Her parents despaired of caring for her and abandoned her at church. The poor of the church took her in and cared for her. Eventually the Dominicans brought her into their community. These monastic communities were often the way a woman, and especially a disabled woman, could receive an education. She went on to be a schoolteacher for poor children.

As a member of the Dominican community she would have sung these words every morning. Margaret had a profound limp; one leg was shorter than the other. She came into his presence with a halting step, but she came in praising God. She made a joyful noise with songs of praise. Suffering from dwarfism, Margaret probably could hardly see over the stand on which her breviary would have been placed. But she was somewhere between the depths of the sea and the heights of the mountains, so she was in his hand. I do not know if Margaret’s physical limitations allowed her to kneel before the Lord, but she was counted among the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand.

We find that we are subject to forces which render us vulnerable, weak, and often unable to do what we would like to do. Margaret lived with those feelings and that reality every day of her life. She found comfort in these words. Let them work their comforting way into your heart. Repeat them to yourself. Sing with that very long line of people, both those living now and those who gather now in perfect bliss around that throne. You are a person of his pasture, a sheep of his fold.

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