I pray the Divine Office every now and again–though I wish I would more often–and at Matins today, this Psalm stood out to me as having a very eucharistic flavor. In Catholicism and various other Christian traditions, Thursday is set aside in a special way for Eucharistic devotions—since Christ instituted the Eucharist on a Thursday (On the night before He was given up to death…). Here is the Psalm with my comments in red:

Psalm 116:12-19

How can I repay the LORD for all the good done for me?

I will raise the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD. The “cup of salvation” is an obvious allusion to the Blood of Christ of which He said would be poured out unto the forgiveness of sins (Matt. 26:27-28). To “call on the name of the LORD” is also anticipatory of the part of the rite of the Eucharist when the celebrant extends his hands over the bread and the cup and calls on God to “send [His] spirit to come upon these gifts and make them Holy so that they may become for us the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ”

I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people. The Blessed Sacrament, like all Sacraments, is a covenantal and communal oath (or vow). And since we Catholics believe that Heaven and Earth are wedded at the table of the Eucharist, we truly do participate in the “presence of ALL his people”.

Too costly in the eyes of the LORD is the death of his faithful. The Psalmist here is speaking of how it grieves God when His saints are given over to death. In the Eucharist, we give thanks for the triumph over death God brings us through the re-presentation of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ.

LORD, I am your servant, your servant, the child of your maidservant; you have loosed my bonds. Obviously for Catholics, whenever the scriptures refer to the Lord’s “maidservant” or “handmaiden” we believe they are speaking of Mary, the mother of God and our mother. St. Thomas Aquinas wrote that in the Eucharist, Mary is especially present. Since Christ received 100% of His human nature from His mother, and since He gives us 100% of Himself in His Body and Blood as well as His Soul and Divinity in the Eucharist, its obvious that our communion with Mary grows as our bonds are loosed through the Sacrifice of Christ.

I will offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the LORD. As most well know, the word Eucharist derives from the Greek for “thanksgiving”. The Psalmist here is of course speaking of the todah (which also translates “to give thanks”) sacrifice of ancient Judaism. The Eucharist is essentially the todah sacrifice fulfilled—as well as all other sacrifices of the Mosaic Covenant.

I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people,

In the courts of the house of the LORD, in your midst, O Jerusalem. Hallelujah! Again, the Eucharist is our Communion with Christ and with the courts of the new Jerusalem—on Earth as it is in Heaven. Hallelujah indeed!

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