Reflection on Psalm 113
by John G. Gibbs, PhD
Does the kind of social concern
expressed in today's readings (Jesus' concerns were with widows,
lepers, the dispossessed: captives, oppressed, the poor, the
blind) square with stewardship of the environment? Some have
asked this question.
Look, for instance, at Jesus' own at-homeness within the created
world of birds, fields, fish, fig trees. One could take considerable
time listing all the relationships that are mentioned in the
4 gospels between Jesus and plants, animals, hills, plains,
and other geographic and astronomical entities. The Jesus of
the gospels was truly "incarnate," as such a list of detailed
Look, second, at Psalm 113, a "hymn celebrating the Lord as
helper of the humble," as our NRSV note states it. The Psalter
was the first great hymnbook of God's people, and its at-homeness
within the creation is known to all. Even here, where the focus
is on raising up the poor and lifting the needy, the pslamist
thinks of their Lord as being first the Lord of the creation
(Lord of time, "from the rising of the sun to its setting,"
no less than Lord of the nations with "his glory abiove the
heavens"), the One who uses the creation to "rescue the perishing."
This Psalm, along with Psalm 114, is sung before the Jewish
Passover meal. There it stands as reminder of our opportunities
and obligations within both Creation and Covenant.
Indeed, when we consider that the world could've been created
drab, colorless, and cacophonous in every respect, we may be
overwhelmed by the multiplicity of aesthetic values that come
as free gifts from the Creator. God's own self-giving love is
therein manifest. Such an observation motivates us to extend
to fellow human beings the generosity we have all received.
In all of this Sunday's readings, I see the bond between Creation
and Covenant which enables and requires us to care for the needy
by attending to our use of the gifts (not "resources" for exploitation)
within the creation.