Praying With the Psalms // Recovering Human Dignity

Psalm 8 Matthew 21:15-16I Corinthians 1:27

You’ll forgive me if I start out today’s reflection with a cursory glance at the nature of recent news headlines and the culture at large.  Indeed, as a race, humanity appears to be struggling with it’s actual humanity. We kill babies in the womb as if they weren’t babies; just a scientific “fetus” floating around in a petrie dish circumstantially located inside a womb.

In fact, if you would like to order a child out of a petrie dish, you can do just that.  Science has got you covered. Whatever your need - whatever your desire - we’ll manufacture the humanity to accommodate it. Indeed, if there has been a mistake, and your sex doesn’t seem to align with your “gender” we can fix that, too.

Whatever your problem, science will “fix” you. It’s got you covered. The irony that the more “godlike” man becomes - birthing, fixing, and ending life - the less human he becomes as well.

Today’s Psalm, titled “Divine Majesty and Human Dignity” in the New Revised Standard Version (Catholic edition) of the Bible, provides a way out of this. It’s a method of prayer that not only rightly elevates God, but instills in us a true sense of humility.

True, this way of thinking isn’t the “smart” way to think. It’s not progressive enough, not “free” enough, not enlightened enough.  And yet, this is how it has always been; God has always used the foolish and/or the weak to confound the wise. David proclaims it (v. 2), Christ confirms it, and Paul remind us of it.  So if you feel a fool, you’re in good company!

So how do the fools survive? How do we restore order? Well, firstly, we don’t restore order. It’s not up to us.  That’s God job, and we’re just going to let him do it.

But, for our part, we can begin by joining David in praising God. Not only is his name “majestic in all the earth,” but his glory extends “above the heavens” as well. By considering the heavens and recognizing the glory and wonder of God, we can glimpse the greatness of him. It is in this manner that we find true humility.

Secondly, we can correct our perspective. Sometimes, we have the tendency to look down. With the help of science, it is easy to recognize how we might be mammals, or beasts. But David looks up. He recognizes that God has made man “a little less than the angels.” We should, too. We aren’t merely animals, slaves to our instincts and without choice in our behavior.  We are created in God’s image - made to praise him - this is where we find our dignity.

“O Lord, our Lord, How majestic is your name in all the earth!”

Reflect: Do you have a tendency to demean your fellow man? Do you view your neighbor as an animal, or as a created being “a little less than the angels?”

Reflect: How do you view yourself? Do you practice true humility?

Action: Meditate with and pray this Psalm.