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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

  • The blog header depicts an important and yet mis-understood New Testament scene, Jesus flogging the money-changers out of the temple. I selected it because the faith that gives us consolation can also make us very uncomfortable. Both Divine Mercy and Divine Justice meet in Jesus. Priests are ministers of reconciliation, but never at the cost of truth. In or out of season, we must be courageous in preaching and living out the Gospel of Life. The title of my blog is a play on words, not Flogger Priest but Blogger Priest.

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After the Responsorial Psalm or Second Reading, the people in the pews stand for the recitation of the Alleluia or another chant (as in Lent) prior to the proclamation of the Gospel. While readers frequently speak it normally, there is a preference that it be chanted or sung— or else omitted entirely. As a priest I prefer to chant it. It sounds odd when offered in a monotone voice. Indeed, even a dispassionate countenance seems to betray the joy that should be present. (I am reminded of the silly children’s song, “If you’re happy and you know it, then your face will surely show it.” It is hard to lead a congregation with a joyous “Alleluia” when all the faces you see look as if someone just ran over the family dog.)  By comparison, would we sing the HAPPY BIRTHDAY song as a dirge?  No, I think not. The Liturgy of the Word finds its roots in the ancient synagogue service where the Jews would have chanted the Hebrew word Alleluia, calling upon the divine name, “God be praised!”

This small rite within the larger order of the Mass is a ritual verbalization of the focus upon almighty God in the first  commandments of the Decalogue.  We give praise to God.  It is no accident that the Alleluia and verse come right before the proclamation of the Gospel.  The natural faith and covenant of the Jews will be consummated by the supernatural faith and new covenant of Christians. The incarnation of Christ will make possible the full revelation of God as Trinity.  Even though he looks upon us with a visible human face, Jesus is the one who shows us the face of the invisible God.  He and the Father are one.  The Gospel informs us that the most genuine posture of God is one of compassion and mercy, not vindictiveness and vengeance.  It is through the Alleluia and verse that we celebrate or greet the Gospel. 

The establishment of the Alleluia chant as a rite in the Mass goes back to the seventh century. Traditionally it accompanies the short procession of the deacon or priest with the Book of the Gospels.  As soon as it ends, the minister greets the people and announces the reading.

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