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In the psalmist's time, few people could read. Oral communication played an important part in transmitting knowledge, in expressing gratitude and in giving witness. Thus, the Psalter contains a number of variations on the "pay attention" theme:
What were God's people to hear? In the case of Psalm 66, it was the testimony of a grateful heart. The singer of this psalm came to the Temple to offer his sacrifice in gratitude for God's help. But he was not satisfied with making just the prescribed animal offerings. The psalmist wanted to "tell his story," to share with the assembly what God [had done] for his soul. God has listened! He has heeded the voice of my prayer! That exultant testimony is meant to encourage its hearers not to be afraid to make known to God their needs, their hopes and their distress.
Come, children, and hear me. Listen, my people, I will speak.
Today, if you hear the voice of the Lord.
Come and hear, all who fear God! Even our Lord had, so to speak, a "pay attention" line when He taught the crowds: Let him who has ears, hear! At the moment of the Transfiguration, God the Father had only one word for the enraptured apostles: This is my beloved Son. Listen to Him!
In his service to Christ, St. Francis of Assisi was both a good listener and a good "summon-er." The early sources testify to the Little Poor Man's habit of spending long hours in silent prayer, listening for and listening to the still, small voice of God. They also recall Francis' eagerness to tell what God had done not only for his soul, but for the souls of all people. Francis listened closely to Jesus and that equipped him to better declare what Jesus had done for everyone.
In his devotional tapestry of psalm verses which is the Office of the Passion, St. Francis used verses from Psalm 66 for the Psalm at Terce (Midmorning Prayer) on feast days and Sundays. The Little Poor Man could "hear" Jesus praying those verses and he wanted others to hear the Word Incarnate praying them, too. Indeed, Come and hear, all who fear God, I will tell what He did for my soul takes on a whole new meaning when we think of our Lord inviting us to hear Him tell what God the Father had done for Him.
Each of us has a prayer -- and often a plea -- to offer to God. Psalm 66 invites us to be on the alert to hear God's answer, to see God at work and to be aware of the many times God does not reject [our] prayer nor withhold His love. Such spiritual alacrity sharpens and deepens our sense of gratitude. It equips us to issue our own Come and hear...l will tell what God did for my soul. And when others have a story to tell of God's working in their lives, we are ready not only to Come and hear, but also to add to their thanksgiving our own.
Blessed be God!


Psalm 66






Burnt offering I bring to Your house;

to You I will pay my vows,

the vows which my lips have uttered,

which my mouth spoke in my distress.


I will offer burnt offerings of fatlings

with the smoke of burning rams.

I will offer bullocks and goats.


Come and hear, all who fear God,

I will tell what He did for my soul:

to Him I cried aloud,

with high praise ready on my tongue.


If there had been evil in my heart,

the Lord would not have listened.

But truly God has listened;

He has heeded the voice of my prayer.


Blessed be God who did not reject my prayer

nor withhold His love from me.


Come and Hear!