……from your Pastor’s Desk
Most of our music here is what some call ‘Contemporary’, even though some of our ‘favorites’ go back around 50 years. Back then a group of Jesuit seminarians attending St. Louis University got together and formed a group to compose and play modern ‘Liturgical’ music. So – long story short – the ‘St. Louis Jesuits’ came to be. And they are still writing music, albeit separately now.
Of the five, the one I most resonant to is John Foley S.J., he wrote: The Cry of The Poor, For You Are My God, One Bread, One Body, Earthen Vessels, If God is For Us and Come To The Water – just to name a few. He also writes each week about the ‘Spirituality’ of that weekend’s readings. Here is his offering for this week.
Enjoy. Father Ron
Come to the Water
I love the First Reading. I suppose this is obvious from the fact that I wrote a hymn, “Come to the Water,” which is based on it. It was a long time ago (1971), but I remember the time clearly. The St. Louis Jesuits were only just forming and we took a summer together to write, out in Berkeley, CA. We always composed music individually and then presented it to one another for critique. For my part I wrote two hymns, and when it was time, played them for the others. I remember the exact spot where I stood. You probably think one of them was Come to the Water, but it wasn’t. I don’t even remember the names of those two pieces. The unanimous reaction of my brothers in Christ was, “ugh.” “They just don’t work,” “What were you thinking?” These encouraged me to file the errant pieces in the round file and try again.
I had learned something. I could not just “dash off” music. I had to believe in it and believe in what it was saying. So I searched the scriptures and prayed. The result? A setting of the First Reading for this Sunday.
All you who are thirsty,
come to the water!
You who have no money,
come, receive grain and eat;
Come, without paying and without cost,
drink wine and milk!
Why spend your money for what is not bread;
your wages for what fails to satisfy?
Heed me, and you shall eat well,
you shall delight in rich fare.
Composers and authors actually do not know what happens when inspiration hits. I only know that I began writing immediately, and that something inside was guiding me. Come to the Water was born.
I continue to believe in it and to stand behind what it says.
Both the song and the scripture passage express a solution to the needs and aches in our bodies and souls. The love we received when we were children was true, in spite of whatever wounds and reversals any of us received then or afterwards. The inside chambers of our self are truly and thoroughly loved by the giving-God.
Jesus shows this to us in the Gospel. He was aching, himself. He had been told about the death of dear his teacher and friend, John the Baptist. He wanted to get away from people, to let himself feel the loss.
But look what happened. Crowds of people tracked his boat and figured out where he was headed. They ran around the lake and waited as he pulled up to shore. Gone was his chance to mourn, at least for the moment. Maybe he should have told them to go away! Come back later. But the scripture says, “his heart was moved with pity for them, and he cured their sick.” Even more, he gave them food, a tiny bit of food that multiplied so there was enough. If you look at it, he was doing exactly what the First Reading and Come to the Water are talking about.
We are meant to be fed by God in this way. And we are to be like Jesus in our actions toward other people. What we receive as we walk up the aisle to communion makes us into God’s way of fulfilling the First Reading.
John Foley, SJ