In doing a bit of lectio divina on this Sunday’s Mass readings, I spent some extra time on the Responsorial Psalm, finding that Pope Benedict XVI had given a teaching on this one. In fact, it was in only his second General Audience since becoming Pope that he taught on Psalm 121:
 I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
 My help comes from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.
 He will not let your foot be moved,
he who keeps you will not slumber.
 Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
 The LORD is your keeper;
the LORD is your shade
on your right hand.
 The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.
 The LORD will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
 The LORD will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and for evermore.
The Holy Father first points out the twofold meaning of the mountains, the second of which would probably be missed by most of us (it never occurred to me!):
The song begins with the Psalmist raising his eyes “to the mountains”, that is, to the hills crowned by Jerusalem: from up there comes help, for there, in his temple, the Lord dwells (cf. vv. 1-2).
However, the word “mountains” can also conjure up images of idolatrous shrines in the so-called “high places”, which are frequently condemned in the Old Testament (cf. I Kgs 3: 2; II Kgs 18: 4). In this case, there would have been a contrast: while the pilgrim was advancing towards Zion, his eyes would have lit on pagan temples that were a great temptation to him. But his faith was steadfast and he was certain of one thing alone: “My help shall come from the Lord, who made heaven and earth” (Ps 121: 2).
After covering other aspects of Psalm 121, Pope Benedict concludes by introducing us to Barsanuphius of Gaza, from whom he quotes an encouraging litany of blessings.
In the chapter on Psalm 121 in their book “Praying the Psalms with the Early Christians,” co-authors Mike Aquilina and Christopher Bailey present an excerpt from St Augustine’s preaching on this psalm, which includes this explanation:
How are feet moved?
….nothing moves the feet, except pride: nothing moves the feet to a fall, except pride. Charity moves them to walk and to improve and to ascend; pride moves them to fall….
Choose for yourself him who will neither sleep nor slumber, and your foot shall not be moved.
There are some aspects of my life that are currently a source of distracting anxiety for me. This psalm is truly a reminder to me of the vigilant love that my Heavenly Father has for me. At the same Mass in which I hear/pray this psalm tomorrow, I will have an encounter with Jesus, and receive his sacramental Presence. I will strive to have unfailing trust that He will be with me through the power of the Holy Spirit to guide me through the vicissitudes of life.