The satisfying, terrifying metallic cadence
of racking a shotgun;
The slide of a pistol clicking into place
as a fresh round chambers;
The rasp of a sword leaping from its scabbard
to glint and guard and gash;

The push-button remoteness of planes and tanks
sending ordnance at unseenly distant foes;
The incendiary horrors of missiles and bombs
exploding in shrapnel and shock;
The corporeal shove of cannon rending
ground and sky with manmade thunder and lightning;

All these cower
whimpering, inadequate,
Outmannd and outgunned
Before superior armament
Disguised in weakness:



Overcome (Byr a Thoddaid)

Grabbed by the lapels, left breathless,
Wordless, slack-jawed, undone, helpless.
You’re confronted by a greater power
Whose grasp reaches and wends.

When breath, words, and closed mouth return
The frantic longing inside burns:
Not for escape or reprieve, not at all;
Beauty woos, wins with awe.


What is Byr a Thoddaid?

The Arm of God

God’s salvation is not simply a thing announced, but a “wrought” reality. In saving us, God truly does certain deeds, “wondrous things,” by which we are redeemed. God saves man by the forceful intrusion of His holiness into man’s history. God’s arm is a metaphor of this irrupting redemptive holiness. In the “wondrous things” of the Incarnation, the Atonement, the Resurrection, God’s arm invades the processes of human destiny with the outpouring of His own life. Man’s life is thereby given access into the incorruptible life of God. …

The substance of the Gospel, then, is not some theory about God or even some set of norms by which man is to live. At root, the Gospel has absolutely nothing in common with even the highest religious speculations, such as those of the Upanishads, Pythagoras, Heraclitus, Lao Tzi, or the Buddha. In the strictest possible sense, beyond all human reckoning or expectation, the Gospel is a “new song,” a radically different voice on the human scene. It is the revelation of God’s holy arm taking charge of man’s history. It is that redemptive, holy activity by which “He has shown strength with His arm.” It is “the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Cor. 1:24).

— Patrick Henry Reardon, Christ in the Psalms, 193-194.