Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

We’re back to the ten a.m. Latin Mass, and today we’ve got special guests Papa Joe and Mother Dillon. Sarah always likes to come to the Latin Mass with us, but this is a first for us with Joe. Last time he came he flew out too early to go with us.

The choir is back. Hooray! You know what that means? That’s right. Palestrina!

From the always useful Wikipedia:

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (c 1525–2 February 1594) was an Italian composer of Renaissance music. He was the most famous sixteenth-century representative of the Roman School of musical composition. Palestrina had a vast influence on the development of Roman Catholic church music, and his work can be seen as a summation of Renaissance polyphony.

The choir sings the Gloria from Palestrina’s Missa brevis, then later, during the Preparation, the sing Ad te levavi oculos (To thee have I lifted up my eyes) by Palestrina as well. During communion, one of the sopranos sings an absolutely lovely solo from Handel’s Messiah.

The first reading is from Isaiah, and it makes me think of 9/11:

Thus says the LORD:
Say to those whose hearts are frightened:
Be strong, fear not!
Here is your God,
he comes with vindication;
with divine recompense
he comes to save you.

Although I’ve generally been thinking a lot about 9/11, the anniversary of which is tomorrow. Not that I think that this particular passage implies at all that God is on our side, nothing like that. Rather, it’s to me more of just an encouragement, for us, and for me, one whose heart is so often frightened.

But it’s the Gospel reading that really knocks my socks off. It’s from our Year B main man, St. Mark, of course. In it, Jesus cures a deaf man.

[P]eople brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment
and begged him to lay his hand on him.
He took him off by himself away from the crowd.
He put his finger into the man’s ears
and, spitting, touched his tongue;
then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him,
“Ephphatha!” -. that is, “Be opened!” —
And immediately the man’s ears were opened,
his speech impediment was removed,
and he spoke plainly.

What’s so great is that spitting, that so completely human, low-tech way of producing a medicinal salve. And then, and then, he groans. How utterly strange, groaning. Again a so very human method, this time of incantation. But, no, pre-human even, pre-verbal. Then that strange word, ephphatha. This is all so very cool, picturing Jesus being so completely caught up in what he’s doing, so dramatic, looking up to heaven and groaning. It’s like a purely cinematic moment. And never mind the miracle itself. We see that time and again in the Gospels. But never so dramatic as this.