Have you ever seen a drawing of God singing? I haven’t. I don’t know of any artist who has ever attempted to show that. Yet that is the image that the prophet Zephaniah gives us. "The Lord will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing as on a day of festival" (Zephaniah 3:17). Imagine that – God singing!
This passage comes to mind because of today’s responsorial psalm: "The Lord takes delight in his people" (Psalm 149:4). And the people in turn take delight in the Lord: "Let them sing for joy upon their couches" (v. 5). This psalm depicts a festival of love, with a lot of singing going on!
With all our faults and failings, it is good to hear that God loves us, delights in us and sings because of us. What does God see in us? First of all, God sees the human person and he rejoices in his creation. In Zephaniah’s time, God saw a faithful remnant restored to peace. After the resurrection of Jesus, God sees in his people the likeness of his Son. "I am the vine, you are the branches" (John 15, 1).
What is the purpose of our lives? Why are we here? Jesus tells us today that we are to testify, to bear witness. We are here so that the risen Lord can live in us, manifest himself through us, heal through us, teach through us, love through us. And because of Jesus living in us, we can expect to do great things. "He who lives in me and I in him will produce abundantly" (John 15:5).
He warns us that it will not be easy. But the Spirit will give us all the help we need. And the Father will continue to "exult over us with loud singing as on a day of festival." Come, let us give thanks. Let us sing thanks.
Fr. Alan Phillip, C.P. is a member of the Passionist Community at Mater Dolorosa Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California. http://www.alanphillipcp.com/