Psalm 116: Holy Thursday’s prayer for God’s servants


Holy ThursdayHow can you make a return to the Lord? Is there anyway you can actually ‘payback’ the Lord for all the good he has done for you?

Think about it: everything you have is a gift from God: your family, your friends, shelter, food … everything.

What can you possibly do to pay Him back? That is the question posed by the psalmist in Psalm 116 which Roman Catholics traditionally sing/pray on Holy Thursday.

The psalmist quickly provides an answer. We are called to do two things; take up the cup of salvation; and call upon the name of the Lord. That’s it.

Our Lord doesn’t need the ‘return,’ but we do, for this cup to which the psalmist prophetically refers holds the Blood of Christ.

God, the Father, knows that our very souls depend on this cup for our survival, which is why He sent His Son. On Holy Thursday, Jesus kneeled before His disciples as any lowly servant would, and washed their feet.

He modeled to us the importance of being servants to each other, born and unborn, which frees us from the chains of smothering self-centeredness, just as the psalmist sings:

“I am your servant, the son of your handmaid; you have loosed my bonds.”

Psalm 116 reminds us of the sanctity of life:

“Precious in the eyes of the Lord is the death of his faithful ones.”

After drying His disciples feet, Jesus instituted the Holy Eucharist at His last supper. Interestingly, Psalm 116 was written as much as a thousand years before the drama of Holy Thursday. And yet when the psalmist sings…

“To you will I offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and I will call upon the name of the Lord …”

… it’s hard not to think of the sacrifice Jesus made for us. It’s hard not to fall on our knees in sheer thanksgiving for this sacrifice our Savior made to give us life, eternal life.

Imagine: within about 12 hours, Jesus will be hanging from a cross, “calling upon the name of the Lord” in the most tragic cry in human history: “My God, My God, why have You abandoned me?” Psalm 116 should be, must be, our response.

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