November 19, 2023
by Molly Mattingly
Creighton University's Campus Ministry
click here for photo and information about the writer

Sunday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 157

Proverbs 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31
Psalms 128:1-2, 3, 4-5
1 Thessalonians 5:1-6
Matthew 25:14-30
Praying Ordinary Time Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

Later this week is the feast of St. Cecilia (Nov. 22), patron saint of music and of the Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Omaha. She is the patron saint of music not because she was a professional musician, or even because of the actions that led to her martyrdom, but rather because she “sang to God in her heart.” St. Cecilia had sure footing in God, the source of song. Today’s readings point toward the dignity and worth of work offered in collaboration with God, and the importance of sharing the gifts we have from God, even if they seem small. God often multiplies comparatively small gifts (one talent; five loaves and two fish; one seed; one voice) when we choose to share them.

Your voice, or the breath and spirit you send through your instrument, is a unique and personal thing. Sharing it is a vulnerable act, a brave act, because letting it be heard means someone can react to it negatively, especially in a world of comparison to professionally edited recordings. Many people think their voices aren’t “good enough” to share or be heard in worshipful singing. But it’s not really about sounding good; it’s more about making the effort to join in. Have you ever been part of an event when every single person joined in singing with full voice? It is a powerful experience it can be when nobody is self-conscious about letting their voice be heard. We have the power to give others confidence, consolation, and permission to express by sharing our voices in song. It sounds different when even one person is missing. Every person, every voice, and the gifts they bring are essential to the worshipping community and treasured by the God we come to meet in the liturgy.

Music, like liturgy, is inherently communal. It does not happen without someone being able to hear it. The vibrations only exist in the air between us for a short time. Something is being communicated that only exists through the experience of sharing and receiving. It is bigger than just “me and God,” bigger than just us in the building at the time, and bigger than our particular parish. We participate in the liturgy with the whole Church across the globe and through time, with the communion of saints. Now, imagine that multitude all in-sync, singing and playing the same song of following Christ, listening and responding in harmony, and yourself as part of it!

We are all “instruments of God,” both figuratively and literally. We each carry a unique voice within us, a voice that is moved only by breath: one of the images of the Holy Spirit. In a very real way, we become the voice of the Body of Christ on earth when we join in singing together at Mass, because the Spirit sings in us. There is a dying to self in the vulnerability of giving your voice, your musical expression, to the liturgical expression of the Body of Christ, to God and to the human beings with whom we commune. Like John the Baptist, we decrease so that Christ may increase: the Body of Christ singing in unity, many voices as one, breath and heartbeats aligned. One body, many parts. One small “talent” offered, shared, and doubled by God, and returned to God. May God prosper the work of our offering!

“Prosper the Work of Our Hands” by ValLimar Jansen:


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