Better Than Life?

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Psalm 63 was composed more than 3,000 years ago. But it presents us with an idea that’s radical even today: “Your mercy is better than life itself.”

Better than life?

Such unquestioning trust in the mercy of God is a hard notion to accept in our secular age. But no one less than the future ruler of Israel, David, expressed this thought when he was hiding in the desert from jealous King Saul, who wanted him dead.

After many days without enough water or food, David’s body weakened. But he offered his suffering as prayerful yearning for God.

As can be attested by the holy men and women of the early Church who fled to desert wilderness to seek God, they could see and feel God’s presence and power in a unique way there.

Pope St. John Paul II pointed to this psalm to illustrate how essential and profound is our need for God’s mercy.

“Without him we lack breath and even life itself,” he told a general audience in 2001. “For this reason the Psalmist puts physical existence itself on the second level, if union with God should be lacking.”

Our prayer today: Eternal Father, we thank you for speaking to us today as you did to David so long ago, reminding us that our earthly life has little meaning without you at its center.


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