Commentary Ps 115 ( Holy Thursday and Corpus Christi)
Commentary by Dr Noel Donnelly. Music setting by Gerry Fitzpatrick.
Cantor Mary Bradley
Psalm 115 is another of those famous Hallel songs sung during the Jewish Passover meals. It’s a toast to God made during the fourth cup of celebratory wine, so we can imaging it being done with much warmth and enthusuasm! Jesus and his disciples would have sung it at the Last Supper and we will be familiar with it as we sing it on Holy Thursday at our own Eucharistic celebrations. “The cup of salvation I will raise!” As Christians we add a sacramental response, “This blessing-cup which we raise is a communion with the blood of Christ!”
Psalm 115 is a love song: it’s an intensely personal response of love for all God has done. The singer remembers that even when things were at their worst he hung on to his faith through the awful affliction that has now passed. They were all “precious in the eyes of the Lord” as the song puts it.
In response to God’s goodness the singer now promises to do three things:
He will raise a “cup of salvation”: probably this was originally the drink offering which accompanied a burnt offering in the Temple, a kind of grateful toast to God using sacred wine;
Secondly he decides to offer a thanksgiving sacrifice: probably this was originally a cereal offering, perhaps an offering of bread! This was to be a “thank you” gift for God’s goodness in the recent past;
Thirdly he decides to renew the promises he made to God in private circumstances and now wishes to express them publicly for everyone to witness.
Offering a cup of wine and a loaf of bread in thanksgiving reminds the Christian of course of the Eucharist. The psalm however is couched in love rather than ritual and asks for a renewal of our vows or promises which we are now challenged to put into practice. There’s a twist in the tail! We are urged to go out from our Eucharistic expressions of love and move into the demands of love in daily life. ! “My vows to the Lord I will fulfil before all God’s people!”
Another challenging psalm for us to ponder and to put into practice