4th Sunday of Lent (Fr. Vinner)
My Brothers & Sisters in Christ,
Traditionally, the Fourth Sunday of Lent is called Laetare Sunday (Rejoice Sunday). Anticipating Easter joy, today’s readings invite us to rejoice by being reconciled with God through repentance and the confession of our sins and by celebrating our coming home to be with our loving and forgiving God. God loves each one of us. This is the heart of the teaching of Jesus Christ. The readings today reflect on that mystery.
In the Gospel, the whole story is about the son who wasted all the love that was given to him and yet was still loved on his return. Whether it is a son or a daughter, the teaching is the same: God loves us and even a rejection of God is not enough to stop God’s love for us.
Yet at the heart of the Gospel is the realization of the son that he really had done something stupid and so he returns to his own home, where life—even at its poorest—would be better than where he was at the moment. Again, it makes no difference if we speak of son or daughter today, since the story is obviously about the human condition.
Repentance is the name for recognizing that what we are doing is stupid and not helpful at all to our life. Saint Paul tells us in the second reading that each of us who believes is a new creation. Some of us will probably say: “I do believe but I certainly do not feel that I am a new creation. My struggles are still the same.” But a new creation does not take away our struggles! New creation is really about a radical change within us and living from a new source of our being: Jesus Christ Himself. Only when we recognize this new source of our being and strive to live from it will we come to recognize the new creation within us. Most of us strive to live from our own source of being, our own strengths and virtues: it will never be enough.
The first reading tells us about the Lord taking away the reproach of Egypt from our ancestors. Finally they have reached the Promised Land!
At we consider all three of the readings together, we can see that God invites us to a new life in this time of Lent. We are invited to repent and to turn away from sin. We are invited to consider that we are truly a new creation. We are invited to live from the strength of Jesus Christ within us. And finally, if we do all this, we might even recognize that we have come to a new land and live in a new way and can give thanks to the Lord.
Holy Mass enhances our “pass over,” from a world of sin to a world of reconciliation. At every Mass, we come to our loving Heavenly Father’s house as prodigal children acknowledging that we have sinned (“I confess to Almighty God.”). In the Offertory, we give ourselves back to the Father, and this is the moment of our surrendering our sinful lives to God our Father. At the consecration, we hear God’s invitation through Jesus: “… this is My Body, which will be given up for you… this is the chalice of My Blood … which will be poured out for you…” (= ”All I have is yours”). In Holy Communion,
We participate in the banquet of reconciliation, thus restoring our full relationship with God and our fellow human beings.
Sad at prodigal’s return: The Sunday School teacher was explaining the story of the Prodigal Son to his class, clearly emphasizing the resentment the older brother expressed at the return of his brother. When he finished telling the story, he asked the class, “Now who was really sad that the prodigal son had come home?” After a few minutes of silence, one little boy raised his hand and confidently stated, “The fatted calf.”
Let us pray for one another and pray especially for those who are lost and do not know the way home to the Father. May the rejoicing begin when we turn to the Lord.
May God Bless us.
FR. S.Vinner HGN