Commentary on the Gospel of
Today we celebrate the short life of St. Elizabeth of Hungary. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI praised her as a “model for those in authority.” She only lived to be 24 but what an amazing impact she had on her world. Elizabeth and her husband were part of the royal court and she used her power, influence, and possessions to minister to the poor. During disease and floods, she took care of the victims. She had a hospital built that cared for a thousand people each day. Her husband died unexpectantly and she joined the Third Order of St. Francis. She used her dowry to build another hospital in honor of St. Francis where she personally attended to the sick and spent her money on the poor. She is most frequently presented holding a basket of bread. What an example of generosity and compassion. St. Elizabeth, pray for us.
The response for the psalm is “Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.” When does the Lord’s glory appear? First, he says it appears when he prays for justice. St. James said that the prayer of a righteous person is powerful. The psalmist sees injustice, he works for justice, and his prayer is a plea for justice. Justice in the courts and among the people is one way that the Lord’s glory appears. Another way in which God’s glory appears is in the simple fact that he wants to have a relationship with his children and inclines his ear to them when they call upon him.
Last night I took our family out to dinner to celebrate my youngest son’s birthday. My grandson was in the group. Sometimes when he talks to me I have to bend down toward him to hear and understand what he says. How delightful that is - he talks to me. I get the words of a seven year old but I want to hear everything he says. I incline my ear toward him, to use the language of the psalmist. My great-grandson was also present. He is only two months old. The only communication we can have is when I hold him close to me or he looks at me and laughs at the weirdo in front of him.
The prophet Hosea said that God is like that; he loves his children and enjoys lifting them to his cheeks. Everybody in our family wanted to hold that baby up against their face. This is something the Lord does. It is one way that his glory appears. We have an intimate relationship with one who is madly in love with us and treats us like I treat my grand-children. Finally, the Lord’s glory appears when he allows us to live in his presence and behold his face. “The apple of your eye” is delicate and requires coverings and great care. Hiding in the shadow of his wings is a beautiful picture. The hen’s wings cover the chicks so that they are protected and safe. God’s glory appears as he cares for and protects us. He does this so that we can dwell in his presence and gaze upon his face. When the Lord’s glory appears, joy follows. Wrongs are made right, a father/child relationship grows, and we dwell safely in his presence.
St. Elizabeth experienced everything the psalmist mentions. She worked to bring about justice for the poor. She didn’t just help the poor; she was their friend. She did all she could to protect and care for them. She modeled in her life what God does for us. No wonder that the Church has declared that she dwells in his presence and gazes upon his face.