Praise the LORD, O my soul! I will praise the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God all my life long.
Psalm 146 sings of the rightness of creation with the Creator reigning as Lord and Sovereign.
Do not put your trust in princes, in mortals, in whom there is no help.
During the time of Exile, the Davidic monarchy ended. The experience of Israel in Babylon reminded them that blindly trusting in any human – even the king – is bound to bring disappointment and even despair.
There is only One who is truly faithful within all creation: the Creator.
Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them …
For Israel, the Creator-of-All is also the personal God of Jacob.
Israel’s God: the One who called and chose them to be God’s own people. For Israel in exile, struggling to hold on to hope and faith, it is God alone who is faithful forever.
The LORD who keeps faith forever!
So what does “keeping faith” look like?
Our psalmist is quite specific:
- executes justice for the oppressed
- gives food to the hungry
- sets the prisoners free
- opens the eyes of the blind
- lifts up those who are bowed down
- loves the righteous
- watches over the strangers
- upholds the orphan and the widow
This is what the psalmist means by “keeping faith.”
A proactive divine initiative on behalf of the oppressed, the hungry, the prisoners, the righteous brings hope. Hope that – no matter the machinations of empires – the Lord of all empires is ever at work lifting up the lowly.
This divine initiative is the core tenet of Liberation Theology.
This theological understanding insists that the Lord-of-All holds a “preferential option for the poor.” Our human value system turns upside-down and right-side-up as we consider who among us actually holds divine privilege.
This theological understanding insists that we – as followers of This God – also are called to work on behalf of the oppressed, the hungry, the prisoners, the blind and the bowed down. We too should be all about watching over the strangers and immigrants, the orphans and the widows.
How has the church missed this core calling?
Liberation Theology and its prime proponent, Gustavo Gutierrez, have influenced me and so many other students of theology over the years.
“Clearly the gratuitousness of God’s love challenges the patterns we have become used to,” Gutierrez writes.
The Bartimaeuses of this world have stopped being at the side of the road. They have jumped up and come to the Lord, their lifelong friend. Their presence may upset the old followers of Jesus, who spontaneously, and with the best reasons in the world, begin to defend their privileges.
Those of us who are privileged First World Westerners may bristle at a theology that asks us to let go of our privileges. But Gutierrez assures us this movement of the Spirit not only hastens God’s reign of justice and peace – beginning with those in extreme poverty – it leads to authentic justice and actual peace for those of us who find ourselves holding unjust human privilege.
This is good news. We, too, are being liberated from the burden of our privilege!
The Lord’s “keeping faith” employs another dimension according to the psalmist.
Not only is God actively for the poor, the psalmist declares God is actively against the “wicked.”
… the way of the wicked God brings to ruin.
The Perfect Judge judges because this way because is the antithesis to God’s own way. This way of the wicked is opposed to The Way that is The Way of the right working design of the cosmos and all creation.
On the other hand, the way of the Lord – assumes and expects people to care for one another as the Creator cares for creation: working on behalf of the oppressed, the hungry, the prisoners, the blind and the bowed down.
The Lord will reign forever … for all generations.
Hallelu-Jah! Praise the LORD!
As the Sovereign of the Cosmos continues to reign and bring all creation into perfect harmony and unity, we put our hope in God’s ultimate, eschatological peace and perfect balance.
In the meantime, it is our call as God’s people to work in alignment with God’s own working for justice and compassion within and among all people. To work while we wait and trust that it ultimately is the Creator who will finally bring all creation into perfect shalom.
Please read this excellent summary of Gutierrez and his work.
National Catholic Reporter offers Gustavo Gutierrez and the preferential option for the poor by John Dear, 2011.
Also read more about James Cone, the father of Black Liberation Theology. Dr. Cone died in the Spring of 2018.