This Sunday’s Music: XVI Sunday of Ordinary Time

We must admit that today is not a particularly easy blend of Scriptural passages to unpack, but as with all things in our Christian living, a simple discipline of prayerful meditation upon His Word will reveal it all in due time. Oh wait! … that IS what today is about. How will we bring that out musically?

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To God be the glory! He, in our first Reading, promises a child to the ninety-nine-year-old Abraham of the Bible within a year’s time. In the Epistle, St. Paul tells us that God has made known to “His saints … what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:26-27). So, let the glory rise among us, the praises of our King rise among us, let the songs of the Lord rise among us, let the joy of our King rise among us, and let it rise!


It is a point of pride at SFDS that we are very welcoming — much like Abraham and Martha in today’s Readings — but also very progressive. How many other Catholic churches are rotating proper gospel music through 3/4 of their weekly musical selections? With that in mind, it is sometimes difficult to find a gospel setting of the Responsorial Psalms, but our Vatican Council II fathers were wise and gave us the gift of “common Psalms”. Today’s Psalm 15, while appropriate to the readings, does not lend itself beautifully to settings of the Psalms, and for that reason, we are using today the equally short yet infinitely brighter Psalm 100: “We are His people, and the sheep of His pasture” (Psalms 100:3c). In the second verse, we are to “serve the LORD with gladness: come before His presence with singing”. Well, neither Abraham nor Martha was singing in today’s Scripture, but surely, they very literally served the Lord through their almost excessive hospitality. We are His sheep, we hear His voice, and we act uprightly at His commands.


We are blessed with welcoming today into our Christian family four children at our 11:00 AM Mass. Let us stomp and clap, singing out that spiritual-style hymn, which we learned during Eastertide for the Asperges, i.e. the Sprinking Rite. Perfect for today is the third verse:

Oh yes, that cry called all the horde in
To the River Jordan.
My soul the waters sure did cover
Like a guarding lover.
Just as when the Flood consumed the blinded earth,
So I, too, rose up in new, anointed birth.
I feel those gracious drops of mercy pour down on me!


The immediate image in both the First Reading and the Gospel of the Sixteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time is hospitality. Abraham and Martha very quickly observe the custom of dropping everything and providing for (unexpected) guests. However, in both scenes, something else is provided: wisdom by the Lord, or “the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to His saints” (Colossians 1:26)… yes, that was a stretch with that quote, but it worked! To Abraham, He gives the promise of a son in one year’s time, and to Martha, He gives the caution of slowing down and spending time with the guest. The more we give, the more He gives to us because we cannot beat His ultimate giving of Himself on the Cross.


In the Gospel versicle, we hear a lesson of great wisdom excerpted from one of Jesus’ famous parables: “But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience” (Luke 8:15). Paul, too, in our Second Reading, comments on the Word with: “I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God” (Colossians 1:25). In the Gospel, Mary sits beside Jesus and listens to Him preach as Martha scrambles around like your average New Yorker trying to fulfill the custom of giving hospitality to a guest but forgetting to spend time with him or her. His words, kind and harsh, forever challenge us to live up to His example, and The Master’s law of peace and love are “a lamp unto [our] feet and a light unto [our] path”.


Just as Mary “sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard His word” (Colossians 10:39), so we, too, will “hasten to His throne”. Let us always choose “that good part”, that one “needful” thing: let us not be dismayed “while troubles rise” but let us rest assured in the promise of the Lord. Let us not be burdened by the strict words of what is prescribed but rather by the merit of what us prescribed. The Lord speaks to us, and let us meditate upon what He wants us to learn. Oh, how we love the Lord who hears our “cry” like poor, scrambling Martha.


St. Paul, in his letter to the Colossians says that it is Jesus “Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus” (Colossians 1:28). Let us preach, let us proclaim, let us admonish, let us teach! We are His people, and we are charged with bringing His message to the world. So, go ye out and teach all nations the Good News!