Day 31: Staying Close to the Brokenhearted

Staying Close to the Brokenhearted

BY LUKE HANSEN | April 1, 2022
Today’s Readings

Musical compositions of today’s Psalm are among my favorites. Whenever I hear Marty Haugen’s “Taste and See” or John Foley’s “The Lord Hears the Cry of the Poor,” which are based on Psalm 34, I am reminded of parish Masses during my childhood in a small city in Wisconsin. More importantly, I experience again how it shapes my image of God as a compassionate being who chooses to stay close to those who are broken and hurting.

Staying Close to the Brokenhearted

In August, I returned to the classroom as a Catholic high school teacher. Each day, I have an opportunity to engage students in spirituality, Scripture, and social justice. For most of these young teenagers, God is a distant or irrelevant being, if existing at all. Most biblical stories are new to them, and most of their associations with Scripture are negative. A common complaint, for example, is that Scripture is used to justify homophobia.

In Psalm 34, we encounter a God who takes a side—and it’s the side of the anawim, “the little ones,” those who are poor, marginalized, brokenhearted, or “crushed in spirit.” God hears their cries and promises to deliver them from fear, distress, troubles, and afflictions. 

I love inviting my students to reimagine Scripture, meet this God of liberation and, most of all, imitate and labor with this God in our broken and hurting world. It’s not easy. There are so many distractions and frustrations along the way.

When Pope Francis visited the island of Lampedusa, where so many refugees have died in the Mediterranean, he lamented, “The globalization of indifference has taken from us the ability to weep!” May today’s Psalm open up our religious imagination, soften our hearts, and strengthen our social commitments. Let us take a side with God—with the anawim.

For Reflection:

  • What in your life shapes your image of God as a compassionate being who chooses to stay close to those who are broken and hurting?
  • How are you being led to take a side with God, with the anawim?
7 replies
  1. Richard Roos
    Richard Roos says:

    Bravo…for not just repeating clichés. I commend your efforts to make personal the Lord’s Word to your students!

    • Eileen Burns-Simmons
      Eileen Burns-Simmons says:

      I was lucky to be born siding with God as I’ve always been drawn to the broken ones. It’s been such a gift I shared with my CCD kids and opened their compassionate sides to them.

  2. Dr Eileen Quinn Knight
    Dr Eileen Quinn Knight says:

    To take a side with God and the broken hearted is something I do because of His example. He sided with those in the Sycamore tree, with a person far back in the crowd that couldn’t get to the pool of healing, he sided with the man who had a sick child. He consistently and constantly strove to assist those in need. I try to do the same as I walk the path with Him. I chose the person who is befuddled by new processes that are asked, the person who comes late for Mass or can’t seem to find what to do. I chose those who need my help and reach out to connect. I choose a person who also wants to help me. There is an interplay of graces as we go forth together to transform the world into a holy and sacred place to live.

  3. Ann
    Ann says:

    Every day i encounter the anawim. I live in a senior, low income housing. Neighbors are constantly called to give up ‘one’ more thing: car, phone, tv, hearing, eye sight, mobility, health…the list voes on…dignity, strength, purpose…
    I, too, lo e those songs referenced in this reflection.
    Nice job! Thanks.

  4. sonja
    sonja says:

    The media constantly bombards us with violence, that so often it fails to touch us as reality. I recall the killing in the mosque in New Zealand, which was livestreamed to teens in Europe. They thought it was just another ad for a game! When I asked my neighbours to pray with me, I got a barrage of hatred towards Muslims. So I visited my Muslim friends. Together we wept, they because the victims of the killings were Muslims, I because the victims of the killings were fellow Kiwis. None of us personally knew any of the victims. But we were all equally touched by that news. What does it take to be connected to others? Today that mosque is filled with a wonderful atmosphere of love that embraces everyone who enters. That is the pervasive power of prayer, which unfortunately I have never felt to such an extent in any Catholic church I have entered. Are not we here to convey Jesus’ love to all?

  5. Hector
    Hector says:

    Thank you. I live now in Spain, and I work with inmigrant people from many parts of the world. And you write my experience of every day. And most important the intense calling of God in Them. Thank you again. Sorry for my english is not so good.

    God Bless you,


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