This Sunday’s Music: XVIII Sunday of Ordinary Time

Last week, the LORD taught us how to pray, lifting our hearts and our needs above to the Father who looks over us all. Well, this week’s teachings seem to be almost a continuation thereof: we are constantly warned to focus on those things which are not of this world but of Heaven.

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Our First Reading speaks strongly to us so: “For what hath man of all his labour, and of the vexation of his heart, wherein he hath laboured under the sun? For all his days are sorrows, and his travail grief; yea, his heart taketh not rest in the night. This is also vanity” (Ecclesiastes‬ ‭2:22-23‬). We must realise the many blessings that our LORD daily bestows upon us. In the words of Patrick Bradley, "You blessed me, LORD, / When I woke up early this morning, / Clothed in my right mind. / I just can’t keep it to myself”!


Today’s Psalm is an interesting fusion: its antiphon draws upon Psalm 95:7c-8a (“To day if ye will hear His voice, harden not your heart”), but its verses come from Psalm 90. The things of the earth can, in a very moment — as we hear our LORD say in today’s Gospel —, be taken away. The Psalmist says: “For a thousand years in Thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night. Thou carriest them away as with a flood; they are as a sleep: in the morning they are like grass which groweth up. In the morning it flourisheth, and groweth up; in the evening it is cut down, and withereth” (Psalms‬ ‭90:4-6‬).


This is a bright call-and-response gospel song that you traditionally learn in church and you can’t find anywhere else. Think the notorious songs of Vacation Bible School! If you listen to the Youtube playlist — and please subscribe to our channel! #shamelessplug —, you will hear one of the only recorded renditions of this on the internet. But it works wonderfully for today’s theme. We are warned always to seek what is above, not what is here on earth, and truly we do so by going to our LORD. He is everywhere, and we can see Him, feel Him and hear Him speaking to us, guiding us to our eventual home by driving us from our worldly anxieties and concerns.


In our Gospel, Jesus tells a parable:

“And He said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God”. (Luke‬ ‭12:15, 19-21‬)

We must be concerned with those things of Heaven. We sing today in the second verse of I Surrender All: “All to Jesus I surrender, / Humbly at His feet I bow; / Worldly pleasures all forsaken, / Take me, Jesus, take me now”, remembering that our “life consisteth not in the abundance of things which” we possess. Give it all to Jesus!


This obscure gospel tune from the 90s by the Trinity Temple Full Gospel Mass Choir perfectly captures today’s Scripture passages — in particular our Second Reading. “If ye then be risen with Christ,” says St. Paul, “seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians‬ ‭3:1-2‬). Our life is in the LORD who set us free, who opened for us the Gates of Heaven; let us, then, do all things “with a heavenly mind”.


Is there any hymn that can tie up better the theme of today’s lessons? The third verse of this classic hymn speaks brilliantly to our theme: “Covet not this world’s vain riches / That so rapidly decay. / Seek to gain the heav’nly treasures; / They will never pass away”. “Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity”, cries out the “Preacher”, Qoheleth, in our First Readings from Ecclesiastes‬ ‭1:2‬. We have to hold to God’s unchanging hand, building our hopes “on things eternal”.