Our Help Is in the Name of the Lord
Homily for Monday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time
Preached on June 7, 2010 at Holy Spirit Parish/The Newman Center at the University of Kentucky, Lexington KY
Readings: 1 Kings 17:1-6; Psalm 121:1bc-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8; Matthew 5:1-12
In the Book of Blessings, most of the shorter rites begin with the eighth verse from Psalm 124. The sign of the cross is made as the minister says the first line of the verse—“Our help is in the name of the Lord”—and everyone responds with the second line—“who made Heaven and earth” (Ps. 124:8). This short invocation provides the context for the gift of grace that will follow. It reminds everyone, including the minister, that God alone is the One from whom all blessings flow. From God alone comes every grace: our aid and our protection, our good and our salvation.
The prophet Elijah knew this when he left to hide from the wrath of King Ahab in the Wadi Cherith (cf. 1 Kgs. 17:3). He knew that only the Lord would protect him in that time of danger, that only the Lord would care for him in those years of famine. There, by the stream, the Lord sent ravens to feed Elijah with “bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening” (cf. 1 Kgs. 17:4, 6). During those years, no dew or rain fell upon Israel except at the word of God (cf. 1 Kgs. 17:1). No good ever came to Elijah or to Israel except through the Lord. Elijah’s help was in the name of the Lord, and the survival of Israel lay in the word of the Lord.
When we too find ourselves in times of danger, when we are in need of a blessing, a favor, or some kind of help, perhaps this verse can be our prayer. When we mourn, let our comfort be in the name of the Lord (cf. Mt. 5:4). When we hunger and thirst for righteousness, let our satisfaction be in the name of the Lord (cf. Mt. 5:6). When we are insulted and persecuted and every kind of evil is uttered falsely against us, let our help and our reward be in the name of the Lord (Mt. 5:11-12).
Like the psalmist and the prophet, [we] lift up [our] eyes toward the mountains and ask: “From where shall come my help?” (Ps. 121:1) At those times, let the words of the Psalm come to reassure us: “Our help is in the name of the Lord who made Heaven and earth” (Ps. 124:8).