Zephaniah 3:17 says “The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior; He will rejoice over you with gladness and renew you in his love, He will sing joyfully because of you as one sings at festivals.”
Let’s focus on a few main points and then somehow miraculously tie this verse into the feast day of Gregory the Great (which was yesterday... yes I'm a day late).
When I spend time in Scripture, I read it as if it is addressed to me. Selfish? Maybe so. Effective? Absolutely. Take our Zephaniah verse: “The Lord, my God, is always in my midst. He is my mighty savior.” From this line I realize that I never have to worry about being the most important person in the room. Actually, my presence is quite irrelevant. If He is always in my midst, then there is never a reason for anxiety. This idea is not only humbling but also relieving. Humbling because His omniscience knocks my pride down a few levels by reminding me, “You will never know everything.” Relieving because His presence reminds me that I am never expected to know everything.
“He will rejoice over me with gladness and renew me with his love, He will sing joyfully because of me…” WHAT? He is singing because of me??? The dust of Jerusalem must have gotten to Zephaniah’s head. I thought I was supposed to sing for the Lord. But indeed, the Lord sings for us. Humility at its finest!! We, although sinners, are so loved by our Lord that he will always remain in our midst while singing to us joyfully. Who doesn’t want a personal concert by Jesus?
The entirety of the verse whispers to us, “Here I am, hanging out beside you always. I am singing for you because I have so much faith in you. I believe in you. I am here to cheer you on.”
No one grasped this verse better than Pope Gregory the Great, who lived a life of monastic simplicity. He understood that the Lord’s presence surrounded him at all times. Gregory emphasized the importance of a bishop and the need for a righteous magisterium. Without the ubiquitous presence of the Lord and a knowledgeable teaching body, Gregory would have failed as a shepherd and his people would have failed as sheep. His Gregorian chants were practiced in monasteries, offering song as praise for the Lord while the Lord simultaneously offers His song to us. His largest blunder in the papacy, if a blunder at all, was emptying the Vatican treasury by donating too largely to charities. He was a simple man who yearned to help the poor and lead the lost. He knew that the Lord was cheering him on along the way, just as the Lord does for us. May we live our lives with the simplicity of Gregory the Great, listening to the song of the Lord the entire way.