Friday, May 20, 2016

From Sea to Shining Sea

Give the king your justice, O God,
and your righteousness to a king’s son.
May he judge your people with righteousness,
and your poor with justice.

May the mountains yield prosperity for the people,
and the hills, in righteousness.
May he defend the cause of the poor of the people,
give deliverance to the needy,
and crush the oppressor.

May he live while the sun endures,
and as long as the moon, throughout all generations.
May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass,
like showers that water the earth.

In his days may righteousness flourish
and peace abound, until the moon is no more.
May he have dominion from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth…

For he delivers the needy when they call,
the poor and those who have no helper.
He has pity on the weak and the needy,
and saves the lives of the needy.
From oppression and violence he redeems their life;
and precious is their blood in his sight…

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
who alone does wondrous things.
Blessed be his glorious name forever;
may his glory fill the whole earth.
Amen and Amen.
Psalm 72
Reflection – Well, this is not going to be an easy blog post to write. This psalm has a profound significance, both in its own right—it is one of the great messianic psalms heralding the king who will establish righteousness on the earth—and for me as a Canadian.

The official motto of Canada is ‘from sea to sea’, and Canada is formally known as the ‘Dominion’ of Canada, precisely quoting from this very psalm: ‘May he have dominion from sea to sea.’ Canada, my beloved home country, is in its historical formation a Christian nation—this is not a matter of opinion, nor is it a political statement about any issue before us today. It is a matter of plain fact. 

And Psalm 72 is right at the heart of this Christian historical sensibility of Canada—pity on the weak and the needy, redemption from oppression and violence, care for the poor and those who have no helper.

I am ashamed of my country this week. The government of Canada, admittedly pressed to do so by the Supreme Court of Canada, is forcing through an aggressive law not simply allowing physician assisted death (assisted suicide, truly, or euthanasia), but forcing health care providers to provide it, even if in conscience they cannot.

The poor and the needy, the vulnerable, the suffering—all of these will be given not compassion and care and protection, but death. We can dress it all up in fine words about mercy and relief of suffering, but it is all a load of nonsense in the end—we are going to be killing people when they are at their most needy and vulnerable. As we have done to the unwanted unborn for decades now, so we will do to the unwanted elderly and disabled.

Oh, Canada, my home and native land… may God have mercy on us.

The process by which the bill was passed was ugly in itself. Our Prime Minister actually became physically violent at one point on the floor of the House of Commons and assaulted an opposition member. I wish I was exaggerating about that, but that is what happened, by any normal legal or moral standard or meaning of words. And… there was nothing, in terms of consequences or even widespread concern. Apparently, that is what democracy looks like, in Canada, in 2016.

I fear we are devolving into a thugocracy, led by the man with the great hair, the one-armed pushups, and the winning smile.

So my heart is a bit sore as I write this blog post about Psalm 72, our ‘national psalm’, if you will. The one thing I do know is that, in this year 2016 when so many nations are faced with leaders or prospective leaders (hello, my American readers and friends!) who appall us or frighten us, we are called to know that there is one Messiah alone who delivers justice and mercy to the poor and the weak, who establishes the world in right judgment and good order. And we know His Name, the name above all other names.

As all the other kings of the earth fail us, as they are failing us, pretty much without exception across the face of the globe, let’s put all our faith and hope in He who endures like the sun, falls from heaven like the rain. May His name be blessed forever and ever. Amen. Amen.


  1. It is hard to watch North America devolve. Thank you for this reflection, Fr. Denis. I think the states of our nations weighs heavily on many of us.

  2. Just look at the folks running for president in the USA, talk about a scary election in November no matter who is elected. Evil had sowed division and in that hatred of the other and no one wants to be adults and even have a sane discussion on adult levels. Didn't Fulton Sheen have a great quote about getting the government we deserve if we fail to remain vigilant? May God have mercy indeed!


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