I have been thinking about the word, “Alleluia.” It comes from Latin around the 14th century and means, “Praise God!”
In the Psalms, it is a request for the congregation to join in praise of God. In the Mass, it comes before the Gospel reading and accompanies an antiphon or phrase from the Psalms among other times. It is withheld during the penitential time of Lent, signifying that the kingdom of God is not yet here. It is a joyous statement of our faith and belief in God the Almighty. Alleluia is a statement of thanksgiving for all that God has done for us. We acknowledge God’s greatness and goodness in our enthusiastic alleluia. We join with the angels in heaven in proclaiming, “Alleluia!” We probably can’t say it quietly or with a stern face, it has to come deeply with enthusiasm. Yet I know at times it is hard to be in an “alleluia” mood. Sometimes we can’t get to the place where alleluia fits us and where we can honestly and joyfully proclaim it. Maybe we need to pause then and turn to God asking for his help and support. Maybe it is then that we need to see that God is present even in our struggles, that he is at work in us, shaping us, clarifying us, focusing us. For we cannot praise God only when things are good and we feel blessed. He is present at all times, and I believe cries with us, knows our sorrow and our pain, our laughter and joy.
Therefore it is alleluia at all times. It is praise this God of ours who knows us and who always walks with us. And when we are most crippled by our difficulties, he carries us. So, alleluia, alleluia! Praise God for his companionship and salvation, his creative force in our lives and his great mercy!