This weekend is Saturday the 26th and Sunday the 27th of July, beginning the Seventeenth Week of Ordinary Time.

Jodi Penner sings Be Near Me Still.

This past week’s readings have brought us into an intimate conversation with God. The sense of betrayal felt by God at the beginning of the week – ‘what have I done to you…?’ – is soon answered with our tender reply – ‘I will seek him whom my soul loves…’ The deepest meaning of our lives can be found in making a response to God.  It can be very easy to turn away – to be a bit more like a clay jar than a vine attached to the branch. But the call will still be there, we will always have the opportunity to turn back, to make a response to the God who made us. Today’s reading from the Psalms picks up on these themes too.

God is near; nearer to us than we are to ourselves.  God is in every circumstance of our lives, in our own deepest thoughts and feelings.  Ponder that thought for a moment.  Become aware of God’s intimate closeness to you at this very moment, in all that is going on around you now, in all that has happened – and will yet happen – to you today.

‘I know, O Lord… that in faithfulness you have humbled me.’  Sometimes when we experience pain it is, in fact God nudging us to make some change in our life.  When has that been true for you?  When has a feeling of pain or unhappiness been the push you needed to make some change?  Could that be true of any pain or unhappiness you’re feeling now?

As you hear the psalm read again, you might like to make it your prayer, echoing the words of the psalmist in your heart as you hear them.

God does not inflict suffering on us gratuitously or callously.  Rather, we have a God of compassion, who feels with us, who has suffered for us.  Speak now to this God, perhaps about the pains and unhappinesses you experience, or see in the lives of others, and what God might be nudging you to do about it.