Reconciliation: Matthew West – Only Grace

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Happy Holy Week!

I was at morning mass today and thought about this song by Matthew West.  There were a couple of interesting things about the readings and sermon that made me think about it.  Let’s start with the reading from Isaiah 49:1-6.

Hear me, O islands,
listen, O distant peoples.
The LORD called me from birth,
from my mother’s womb he gave me my name.
He made of me a sharp-edged sword
and concealed me in the shadow of his arm.
He made me a polished arrow,
in his quiver he hid me.
You are my servant, he said to me,
Israel, through whom I show my glory.

Though I thought I had toiled in vain,
and for nothing, uselessly, spent my strength,
Yet my reward is with the LORD,
my recompense is with my God.
For now the LORD has spoken
who formed me as his servant from the womb,
That Jacob may be brought back to him
and Israel gathered to him;
And I am made glorious in the sight of the LORD,
and my God is now my strength!
It is too little, he says, for you to be my servant,
to raise up the tribes of Jacob,
and restore the survivors of Israel;
I will make you a light to the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.

I thought a lot about the idea of being one of God’s arrows in His quiver.  What does that mean?  For myself, it reminded me that I need to be sharp and straight.  I need to be patient and ready for the time that he chooses to use me as His weapon of choice.  The other point that our reward is in the Lord stood out to me and that our efforts and work are not for earthly compensation struck a chord.

Fr. Barry Clayton gave a homily based on the gospel readng, John 13:21-33, 36-38, where Jesus points out that Judas will betray him and that Peter will deny him.  Fr. Barry preached about the fact that we don’t know exactly what Judas’ fate was in the after life.  We can hope that he chose Christ in his final moments, but we don’t know.  We do know that Peter reconciled and became a great founder of our faith even after having turned away from Jesus when he denied him.  That’s the hope for all of us, that despite our failures and stumbles, we can always “get back up”.  Jesus himself fell 3 times while carrying the cross, but he too got up each time and carried forward.  The repetition of the phrase “get back up” reminded me of Matthew West’s lyrics.

Only Grace by Matthew West would make a great song choice for a reconciliation service, during a retreat, or during a worship that talked about renewing your faith or recommitting yourself to the Lord.  It would be appropriate for baptisms or initiation of new church members.  Be careful of your key, the refrain could be a little intimidating for a congregation.  It starts out low, but the refrain jumps up there.

There is no guilt here
There is no shame
No pointing fingers
There is no blame
What happened yesterday has disappeared
The dirt has washed away And now it’s clear

There’s only grace
There’s only love
There’s only mercy
And believe me it’s enough
Your sins are gone
Without a trace
There’s nothing left now
There’s only grace

You’re starting over now
Under the sun
You’re stepping forward now
A new life has begun
Your new life has begun

And if you should fall again
Get back up, get back up
Reach out and take my hand
Get back up, get back up
Get back up again

If you have any other occasions where you use this or have any success with it, let me know!  Have a great Holy Week and a blessed Easter.