“‘Lord, I have cried to you, hear me.’ This is a prayer we can all say. This is a prayer of the whole Christ.”
In the selection from his great commentary on the psalms found in today’s readings, Augustine sees them as universal prayers. They’re not just prayers of an anonymous person from long ago, or prayers that have become part of Jewish worship or Christian worship, or even prayers I make my own today.
“This is not my prayer, but the prayer of the whole Christ.”
The psalm he calls a prayer of the whole Christ is a cry of pain, of fear. Hardly any words to it at all. Christ prayed like this in the darkness of the garden of Gethsemani, the saint says, when his sweat became drops of blood. His prayer was not made of well-framed thoughts, it was the groaning of his heart.
All the cries of human heart are in that cry of Christ, Augustine continues, and his prayer does not end. The story of the Passion of Jesus does not end. The garden is an everywhere, a timeless place, and his cry embraces all.
But the cries of Jesus are heard, the saint concludes, his pain and fear are taken away. Resurrection came for him, and it comes to those who are united to him.