“The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord;
he turns it wherever he will.
All deeds are right in the sight of the doer,
but the Lord weighs the heart.
To do righteousness and justice
is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice”. (Proverbs 21, 1-3)
These words from the Book of Proverbs mention a King, but they are well suited for every Sovereign, for every Leader. As we celebrate Her Majesty the Queen’s 90th Birthday, we turn to God, the Creator of all beings, with gratitude for the steadfast example of a Monarch whose heart is like “a stream of water in the hand of the Lord”: a stream of water that quenches the thirst for warmth, for constancy, for wisdom, the thirst for security, guidance, leadership and care.
As Jesus says in the Gospel of John:
”those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” (John 4,14).
Through Baptism, 90 years ago, the young Elizabeth was given to drink the water that Jesus gives. Today we thank the Lord that in Her Majesty the water of the Holy Spirit that Jesus gives his disciples has turned into a spring of water that lovingly calls the peoples of the Commonwealth to a life of fraternity and compassion that is open to a destiny beyond this world, a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.
Her Majesty has led her family, her subjects, all the peoples of the Commonwealth nations to take to heart the words of Scripture proclaimed at the First Reading today from the Book of Deuteronomy: “[Šema Israel] Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might”. The Queen is a living example of the fulfilment of the promise: “keep all his decrees and his commandments that I am commanding you, so that your days may be long”.
The wise and sobering words of Psalm 90 come to mind:
Psalm 90 – God’s Eternity and Human Frailty. A Prayer of Moses, the man of God
Lord, you have been our dwelling-place
in all generations.
Before the mountains were brought forth,
or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
For a thousand years in your sight
are like yesterday when it is past,
or like a watch in the night.
You sweep them away; they are like a dream,
like grass that is renewed in the morning;
in the morning it flourishes and is renewed;
in the evening it fades and withers.
So teach us to count our days
that we may gain a wise heart.
Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
so that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
Let your work be manifest to your servants,
and your glorious power to their children.
Let the favour of the Lord our God be upon us,
and prosper for us the work of our hands—
O prosper the work of our hands!