Lord, Open My Lips
Homily for Friday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Today, we come to the end of the passages that we will read from the prophet Hosea. Like the prophet Amos, the end of Hosea’s writing speaks of the eventual redemption of Israel. In other words, it ends with a note of hope after several chapters that are filled with doom. As we read these words many, many years later, we realize that these prophecies have all come to pass in the person of Jesus.
In response to this reading, we use the great penitential psalm, Psalm 51, written by King David when he was accused by the prophet Nathan of committing murder and adultery. The verse that caught my attention this morning comes at the very end of our response: “O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.” These words are familiar to anyone who has prayed the Liturgy of the Hours with any consistency as they are the words that open our daily prayer. After spending a little time with these words, I read over the words of the Gospel passage for today. There I was caught by Jesus’ words to the Apostles: “Do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say. You will be given at that moment what you are to say. For it will not be you who speak but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.”
These words caused me to think about two other characters in the Scriptures; namely, Moses and Jeremiah. When God asked Moses to be a spokesperson before Pharaoh, he protested because of a speech impediment. Consequently, God told Moses to take Aaron with him to do the actual speaking. Another person who protested was Jeremiah who claimed that he was too young to speak for God, that no one would pay any attention to him. I wondered, as I read the words of the Gospel, whether the Apostles thought of these individuals as they listened to the instructions Jesus was giving them. Both Moses and Jeremiah and the Apostles stand as examples to us of those who may think we cannot speak as ambassadors for God. If the evidence of the Scriptures is true – and I’m sure it is – we truly have nothing to worry about. The Holy Spirit will put the right words into our mouths. All we need do is to open our lips and allow our praise of God to stand as our witness.
The central part of any Eucharistic liturgy is the Eucharistic prayer that stands as our prayer of praise and remembrance as we call Jesus to be among us, body and blood, soul and divinity, under the appearance of bread and wine. This prayer in its many different forms is our prayer of praise, our prayer of thanksgiving, and our prayer of reconciliation with God. To be sure, the Holy Spirit has filled our mouths with praise just as the Holy Spirit filled the mouths of the various prophets of the Hebrew Scriptures and the mouths of the Apostles.