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An Image of Grace in a Paul Simon Song

October 30, 2015

gospel musicI’ve got my Gospel glasses on and my holy hearing aids in; I’m seeing and hearing God in strange places. There are several Paul Simon songs that bring holy thoughts to me, even if he didn’t mean them that way. One them is this one (followed by my commentary):

When I was a little boy,
and the devil would call my name
I’d say, “Now who do … who do you think you’re fooling?”

I’m a consecrated boy

Singer in a Sunday choir

Refrain: Oh, my mama loves me, she loves me
She get down on her knees and hug me
Oh, she loves me like a rock
She rock me like the rock of ages
And she loves me
She love me, love me, love me, love me

When I was grown to be a man
and the devil would call my name
I’d say, “Now who do … who you think you’re fooling?”

I’m a consummated man
I can snatch a little purity

Refrain: My mama loves me, she loves me
She get down on her knees and hug me
Oh, she loves me like a rock
She rock me like the rock of ages
And loves me
She love me, love me, love me, love me

And if I was President
and the congress call my name
I’d say, “Now who do … who you think you’re fooling?”

I’ve got the presidential seal
I’m up on the presidential podium

Refrain: My mama loves me, she loves me
She get down on her knees and hug me
And she loves me like a rock
She rock me like the rock of ages
And love me
She love me, love me, love me, love me
She love me, love me, love me, love me
She love me, love me, love me, love me

Here’s my commentary, wearing my Gospel glasses and with my holy hearing aids in:

When I was a little boy, and the devil would call my name. We live in a fallen world, governed by a fallen angel, with fallen natures. And even the youngest find that these thrice-fallen forces reach them. Scriptures are clear in saying that the devil is prowling through the world like a roaring lion seeking souls to devour. We are to resist him, solid in our faith (cf 1 Peter 5:8).

I’d say, “Now who do … who you think you’re fooling?” There is a power within the soul to refuse Satan’s voice. Where does this power come from? It comes first from our freedom, from our will. It also comes from the voice of our conscience, the voice of God that echoes in the depths of our soul saying, This is the way walk in it (Is 30:21). Even the youngest children know basic right and wrong. It is not hard to appeal to them to understand what they’ve done wrong. But because of the weakness of our human nature, our inclination to selfishness, and our tendency to justify sin, we need additional help.

I’m a consecrated boy; singer in a Sunday choir. This describes a young man who has been consecrated in Baptism and is walking within the life and sacraments of the Church. The Sacrament of Baptism and the life of the Church give us additional insight to understand that the voice of the devil is seeking to deceive us. But human soul and intellect—illumined by the consecration of Baptism, the other sacraments of the Church, and strengthened by the fellowship of the Church —further strengthen us to be able to say to the devil,

“Who do you think you’re you fooling? I’ve been consecrated and I’m living my life in the light of God’s truth as expressed in the Church. I see your darkness for what it is and I’m not fooled. It is error; it is deception. It is darkness, not the light! I am no fool because, consecrated in baptism, the wisdom of God has reached me.”

Oh, my mama loves me, she loves me. She get down on her knees and hug me, oh she loves me like a rock. She rocks me like the rock of ages, and loves me. She loves me, loves me, loves me, loves me. And this “mama” is Mother Church, who loves us as a mother. She is our mother because we have come forth from her womb, the baptismal font, having been conceived by the chaste union with her beloved spouse, Jesus.

She is Mother Church, Christ’s bride, and oh, how she loves us! Down on her knees in prayer for us, she reaches out and embraces us. Yes, she loves us!

It will be noted, that the word “love” occurs seven times in the song’s refrain. Mother Church loves us sevenfold. Is it the seven sacraments? Is it the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit? Is it the seven corporal works of mercy? Is it the seven spiritual works of mercy? Yes, and more besides! It is love in all its perfection.

And in her sevenfold, prayerful love that embraces us, she loves us like a rock. This is the rock of Peter upon whom Christ, the rock of ages, builds His Church.

When I was grown to be a man – All of us are called to the maturity of Christ.

  • We [must] all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. So may we no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of erroneous doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes (Eph 4:13-14).
  • Brothers and sisters, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults (1 Cor 14:20).

Our Mother Church raises us to be mature in the fullness of Christ’s truth.

And the devil would call my name – Still the devil calls. He does not give up, hence we must remain ever-vigilant. So the song still says, “… who do you think you’re fooling?”

I’m a consummated man. Yes, we are called to full maturity in Christ, as stated above.

I can snatch a little purity. The strength to resist the devil comes from the maturity and purity that come to us in our walk with Christ and by the ministry of His Bride and our Mother, the Church. The purity and maturity of our faith help us to see even more deeply how the devil tries to fool us. Then we can reject him in strength, and with certainty and clarity.

Oh, my mama loves me, she loves me. Yes, she does! The Church just keeps on loving us. Sadly, many walk away from the Church in young adulthood. For those who come to maturity in Christ, the ever-stronger devil requires an even stronger capacity on our part to say, “Who do you think you’re fooling?” This comes through our maturity, wrought in us by our Mother, the Church. She raises us up in the faith to be strong and mature, teaches us the Word of God, bestows His sacraments, and gives us Holy Teaching. Thank you, Mother Church, for loving me like a rock!

The last verse gets a little strange and must be interpreted allegorically, not politically.

And if I was President – In other words, even if I should rise to the highest worldly power, even should I become a great leader.

And the congress call my name – While to modern American ears this refers to the people gathered in Washington, D.C. (the U.S. Congress), the word “congress” itself comes from two Latin roots: con (with) and gradi (go or walk). “Congress” means “coming or being together with,” or more literally, “going with.”

Scripture often warns of those who gather against us, telling us that they are often gathered by Satan himself. Jesus warns of the “synagogue of Satan” (Rev 3:9; 2:9). “Synagogue” is just the Hebrew word that means gathering or “congress.”  The Book of Psalms also warns of those who gather against us:

Rise up Lord against the rage of my enemies. Awake, my God; decree justice. Let the assembled peoples (Synagogus) gather around you, while you sit enthroned over them on high. Let the Lord judge these people (Psalm 7:7-8).

The devil often calls our name through pressure groups, through our desire to be popular, or through those who are together against us tempting us to do wrong. And thus this verse reminds me that even should I rise to the highest places, with many gathered about me pressuring me to do wrong or trying to intimidate me, yet still will I say to the devil, “Who do you think you’re fooling?”

I got the presidential seal. In other words, I have the highest seal, the seal of the Holy Spirit!

I’m up on the presidential podium. That is, I have the highest office, the office of prophet. I am one who speaks for God by this office! And despite the hatred of the world that comes to me from proclaiming God’s Word, and despite the gathering of my enemies all around me, yet still will I proclaim God’s Word as God’s prophet!

And through whatever hatred comes from those who gather against me, my mama loves me, she loves me like a rock. Yes, I have the love of my Mother, the Church, and my Lord, Jesus Christ, who is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer.

You may say, “Well, this is all a bit much. And your interpretation is surely far from what the lyricist probably ever intended.” That’s fair enough, but with my Gospel glasses on, I see Christ everywhere. With my holy hearing aids in, I hear Jesus all the time.

 

Comments (3)

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  1. Donna L. says:

    I never cared for this particular song, but I think I like it more now after your commentary.

    I, too, have a number of “secular” songs that I listen to while I am exercising, but the lyrics help to turn my thoughts to the Lord.

  2. PatriciaRose says:

    I love this and aspire to it myself: “… with my Gospel glasses on, I see Christ everywhere. With my holy hearing aids in, I hear Jesus all the time.”

  3. Giacomo says:

    That was awesome! I once thought the Gospel group The Dixie Hummingbirds, singing backup here, wrote the song but I was wrong. I can remember when I first heard “Let It Be” it was about our Blessed Mother pointing to her Son and “Thy Will be done” but I don’t know its author’s intent. The first two prayers I learned were the Lord’s Prayer and Hail Mary so it makes sense.