Jars' Concert

Though I like music, I'm not much of a concert-goer. But when Fr. Phil Hurley, S.J., our director of youth and young adult ministry, asked me if I was interested in going to a "Jars of Clay" concert, it didn't take me too long to say "yes." I'm a fan of Contemporary Christian Music, having been introduced to it by a spiritual directee of mine when I worked at the Jesuit Retreat House in Minnesota ten years ago. That's when I first started listening to "Jars of Clay."

So on Saturday, after spending a quiet afternoon in the Kettle Moraine area near Holy Hill, Wisconsin, with the colors just past their peak, but the temperatures up to 70, Fr. Phil and I went to the concert in Hartland. "Jars" have been around now for fifteen years and, in honor of their anniversary, they opened their set with songs from their first, self-titled album. This is not "Worship and Praise" music. It's music in which I find a deep resonance with devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

In his first encyclical, "Deus Caritas Est," Pope Benedict XVI wrote: "By contemplating the pierced side of Christ, we can understand the starting-point of this Encyclical Letter: "God is love" (1 John 4: 8). It is there that this truth can be contemplated. It is from there that our definition of love must begin. In this contemplation the Christian discovers the path along which his life and love must move" (#12).

The first song of both the concert and Jars of Clay's first album, "Liquid," leads to this contemplation. Here are the lyrics:

Arms nailed down,
are you tellin me something?
Eyes turned out,
are you looking for someone?

This is the one thing,
The one thing that I know.

Blood-stained brow,
are you dying for nothing?
Flesh and blood,
is it so elemental?

This is the one thing,
The one thing that I know.

Blood-stained brow,
He wasn't broken for nothing.
Arms nailed down,
He didn't die for nothing.

This is the one thing,
The one thing that I know.

"Liquid" invites us to see Jesus on the cross suffering and dying for us. How do we respond? I'm reminded of the "Colloquy" that St. Ignatius invites the one who has just made the First Exercise of the First Week of the "Spiritual Exercises" to make. He writes:

Imagine Christ our Lord present before you upon the cross, and begin to speak with him, asking how it is that though He is the Creator, He has stooped to become man, and to pass from eternal life to death here in time, that thus He might die for our sins. I shall also reflect upon myself and ask:
"What have I done for Christ?"

"What am I doing for Christ?"
"What ought I to do for Christ?"
As I behold Christ in this plight, nailed to the cross, I shall ponder upon what presents itself to my mind.

This song also reminds me of St. Paul's Letter to the Philippians 3: 7-11. To paraphrase: I consider everything as nothing because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. All I want is to know Christ.

Another of their songs was "Worlds Apart" with the following lyrics:

I am the only one to blame for this
Somehow it all ends up the same
Soaring on the wings of selfish pride
I flew too high and like Icharus I collide

With a world I try so hard to leave behind
To rid myself of all but love, to give and die

To turn away and not become
Another nail to pierce the skin of one who loves
More deeply than the oceans, more abundant than the tear
Of a world embracing every heartache

Can I be the one to sacrifice
Or grip the spear and watch the blood and water flow

To love you -- take my world apart
To need you -- I am on my knees
To love you ---take my world apart
To need you -- broken on my knees

Again we are asked to consider both ourselves and the love that was shown us on the cross. And we're faced with the question of our lives: will we "sacrifice" or "become another nail" and "grip the spear"?

Our lives are a response. We either ignore the love of Christ crucified or we respond with love for love.

On the way to the concert Fr. Phil played a CD with a Jars of Clay song from their 2009 album "The Long Fall Back to Earth." The song is "Heart" and the refrain is:

Offer your heart, I've given you mine
Give me your heart, you already have mine