Matt Malone, S.J.March 08, 2021
Photo by Cathal Mac an Bheatha on Unsplash

Journey with America’s editors as they reflect on Scripture, prayer, fasting and almsgiving both in written form and on “The Word” podcast. Find all the reflections and more Lent resources here.

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A reading from the Book of Psalms

Athirst is my soul for the living God.
When shall I go and behold the face of God?
As the hind longs for the running waters,
    so my soul longs for you, O God.
Send forth your light and your fidelity;
    they shall lead me on
And bring me to your holy mountain,
    to your dwelling-place.
Then will I go in to the altar of God,
    the God of my gladness and joy;
Then will I give you thanks upon the harp,
    O God, my God!
Athirst is my soul for the living God.
When shall I go and behold the face of God?


The first question that Pope Francis was asked in his interview in America magazine was: “Who is Jorge Mario Bergoglio?” The pope responded: “I am a sinner.”

If that sounds like an odd strange answer, it’s important to keep in mind that what the pope said is rooted in an even deeper reality. As the palmist says today, “Athirst is my soul for the living God.” 

The living God, who is all loving, created us in his own image. To be made in the image and likeness of God means that within every human heart there is an infinite desire for love; there is an infinite desire for God; a desire to be reunited with our creator. But here’s the problem: You and I live in a finite world. What happens there? We grow afraid that the finite world around us will not satisfy the infinite desire within us. And then we panic.

What does Jesus do with panicked hearts? He reveals that God’s desire for us exceeds our desire for God! Jesus loves with an intensity that drives away the ambiguity from our hearts. In the light of his love we can see that sin cannot destroy our essential goodness. Human beings always retain our dignity, as created in imago dei. That dignity that can never be taken away—even by our own choices. And should we stumble, the love of the living God is always available to us, ready to save us and lift us up again. 

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