This Sunday’s Music: XXIV Sunday of Ordinary Time
Although we’ve seen them throughout the summer, today we officially welcome back our 11:00 choir as a father welcomes back his wayward son… well, the choir members are not wayward, but you know what we mean. And today, we introduce something else to our 11:00 Mass: the beginnings of an official band!
You can check out our music on our weekly Youtube playlist below and also by visiting our growing Youtube channel (at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsDSd2zUrlJlm4W_wA5RqmQ):
AT THE TABLE
The overriding theme of today’s Scriptural lessons is that in God the Father (quite specifically) we have a depth of love and wideness of mercy that knows no separation. Just as the son, who changes his errant and rebellious ways and returns to his father for forgiveness, is welcomed with a feast, so we are welcomed into our Father’s warm embrace. “But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry” (Luke 15:22-23). Let us sing out with merriment this beloved song by Richard Smallwood!
You may recognise this Psalm as strikingly Lenten. Well, it is! It is actually the Psalm we sing on Ash Wednesday, when we begin our Lenten observance of fasting, prayer and service. Today, though, the Lectionary appoints an antiphon equally penitent but more immediately appropriate: “I will rise and go to my Father”. With this gentle bilingual setting by Eleazar Cortés, we beg our Father for mercy.
TAKE ME BACK
in this Andraé Crouch classic, we ask of the LORD something that we daily strive to attain: that our faith be ever as strong as in that place and time “where [we] first believed”. Especially in the verses do we hear allusions to our Responsorial Psalm and Gospel in particular. The Psalmist cries: “For Thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: Thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise” (Psalms 51:16-17). There is brightness in Crouch’s Take Me Back. It is not gentle like the characteristically Catholic hymns of the 60s and 70s or sorrowful like the chants of yore; it, rather, is hopeful and driving like the steps of the son toward his father.
Which hymn can better capture the marvelous gift of God’s love? We hear in the Gospel: “For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry” (Luke 15:24). The grace that the LORD our God bestows upon us when we but return to Him is freely given, unmerited, and its flame can heal us in all our iniquity, can wash us of all our sin. It can even “save a wretch like” the son, like you and like me. It is amazing.
HALLELUJAH, SALVATION AND GLORY
In our Second Reading, we hear St. Paul say: “And the grace of our LORD was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen” (1 Timothy 1:14, 17). Today, we sing a staple of the gospel repertoire: Hallelujah, Salvation and Glory by Jeffrey LaValley. God sent His only-begotten Son into the world “to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15), and praised be God for His unconditional mercy! This song is simple, repetitious and mighty.
YOU ARE GOOD
In Israel Houghton’s You Are Good, which we rock out here at SFDS, we echo a common passage in especially the Psalms: “[God’s] mercy endureth forever”. And how true is this, all ye faithful! We see the promise of God’s mercy throughout the ages. In our First Reading, we hear Moses conversing with the LORD: “Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Thy servants, to whom Thou swarest by Thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever. And the LORD repented of the evil which He thought to do unto His people” (Exodus 32:13-14). The Father forever keeps His promise with His people no matter how much we make His wrath to “wax hot against” us. I once worked with a loving priest and preacher, and I will never forget when, in one of his homilies, he blatantly referred to today’s famous parable as that not of the Prodigal Son but of the Merciful Father. We, in our human condition, love to focus on ourselves, but who truly is the focus of today’s Scriptures, of every Sunday’s Mass, of every day’s living? The Father who loves us so. So, let us praise His name and worship Him with a resounding Hallelujah, SFDS!