Josh 5:9a, 10-12; 2 Cor 517-21; Lk 15:1-3, 11-32
Rejoicing, joy, gratitude, forgiveness and new life are the themes for the 4th Sunday of Lent, Laetare Sunday. In the entrance antiphon we are greeted with, “Rejoice, Jerusalem, and all who love her. Be joyful all who were in mourning.”
Throughout today’s readings we hear good news: the people of God have entered into the promised land, no longer eat manna but “the yield of the fields of Canaan.”
Paul tells us in his letter to the Corinthians, “Whoever is in Christ is a new creation, the old things have passed away. Behold, new things have come.” How will we recognize the new things?
In today’s gospel, we hear about the father who has wealth to distribute to both sons, and who graciously gives his inheritance to the greedy son ahead of schedule.
The father, who stands in for God here, has an abundance of gifts and goods and intends to give them to his children without any strings attached. “EVERYTHING I HAVE IS YOURS.”
But both sons feel “entitled” to their Father’s gifts. Yet, both are unhappy; one, because he squanders everything, and the other, because he complains bitterly. Like the Father in the gospel, God gifts us whether we deserve it or not. How will we respect the new things?
Our prayer today can be twofold: gratitude, for the countless gifts God showers on us; and humility, for the awareness that we are not deserving of God’s goodness.
Laetare Sunday is a reprieve from the Lenten penitential theme to one of joy. After 4 weeks, we look forward to Easter! The resurrection is near; we await the risen Lord with eagerness. As St. Benedict tell us in his chapter on Lent, “Look forward to the joy of Easter.”
Ways to Respond:
• List the gifts we received from God this week. (“Everything I have is yours.”) Do we find any resentment within us because others seem to receive more and/or different gifts?
• What is dead in us that could come to life through an act of forgiveness? Let us ask God for help in forgiving someone.
• Reread Sunday’s readings, slowly. What words strike you as important for your spiritual growth? What keeps you from looking to Easter with a joyous spirit?
Pray: Dear Lord, help us recognize and respect the gifts you give us. Help us make of ourselves and our world something new. We stand with open hands to receive your goodness and your unfathomable love!