The 4th Sunday of Lent is called Laetare Sunday from the Latin meaning “Rejoice.” We rejoice because we are half way through the Season of Lent and as we read in the ORDO, “Laetare Sunday sets a tone of joyful anticipation of the Easter mystery.” The 4th Sunday of Lent is also a good time to check ourselves to see how we are doing in our Lenten observances and if need be to get back on track. As a sports fan I liken it to the 1st half of a basketball or football game. Even though the team may not have had a good 1st half they can always turn it around in the 2nd half. Make your 2nd half of Lent better than your 1st!
Our readings again this week, like last week, are geared toward the RCIA Elect and Candidates preparing for Baptism, Confirmation and First Eucharist at the Easter Vigil. However, we can and should all take them into account in our own lives no matter how long we have been Catholic.
The readings speak of blindness and spiritual sight. In the 1st reading from 1 Samuel the scripture tells us, “Not as man sees does God see” as the Lord chooses David, the youngest son of Jesse to be king of Israel. David is anointed with oil and the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon him, a foreshadow of the anointing with oil in the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation.
In the Gospel Jesus heals the man born blind by telling the man to go wash in the Pool of Siloam, a foreshadow of Baptism. Siloam means “Sent”. Jesus is the one who is sent to heal us and make us whole.
As disciples what do these readings mean to us? We need to look into our lives and see how we are blind. Are we blind to our own faults and shortcomings? Are we blind to the needs of others and to the needs of the Church? When we realize and acknowledge we are blind in certain ways, then we can come to Christ, the one who was sent to heal us and make us whole. For those of us who already have been baptized we can wash in the waters of Baptism once again through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Through a good confession we can be washed clean, as clean and pure as we were on the day of our Baptism.
That is something to rejoice about!
In the 2nd reading Jesus calls us through St. Paul, “To live in the light…Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.” Let us go to Christ so he can heal our blindness and allow us to see in his light.
On the 3rd Sunday of Lent we hear the readings that are usually proclaimed at the 1st Scrutiny for the RCIA Elect & Candidates preparing for Baptism, Confirmation and First Eucharist. The theme is life-giving water pointing to Baptism. But as disciples of Christ we are all also called during Lent to “scrutinize” our faith lives and discern where and how we can experience conversion in our hearts to grow closer to God.
In the 1st reading from Exodus we hear of the Israelites grumbling that they are thirsty for water out in the desert. The Lord God tells Moses, “Strike the rock, and water will flow from it.” That rock is a foreshadow of the Christ, the Rock of our Salvation, which from whom life-giving water would flow.
In the Gospel, in the story of the “Woman at the Well”, Jesus is shown as the fulfillment of the foreshadow from Exodus. The woman comes to draw water from the well but Jesus tells her and us, “Whoever drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
As disciples the question for us is, “How thirsty are we for life-giving water?” Are we complacent and satisfied with the things around us, things that the world has to offer? Or do we have a tremendous thirst for the water that only Christ can give?
Have you ever been so thirsty that you had to have a drink of water or you felt like you would die? As disciples that’s how we should thirst for Jesus. We should be so thirsty that we cannot get enough of his Word, the sacraments, his real presence in the Blessed Sacrament and his grace that he offers us. The world cannot satisfy, only the Rock of our Salvation can satisfy.
And after we drink from the well of Christ, we need to go out like the Samaritan woman who encountered Jesus and we need to evangelize as she did. She went back to town and told everyone who would listen about this experience she had with the one who can satisfy. We need to do the same and make disciples of all nations.
In the words of the most interesting man in the world, “Stay thirsty my friends!”
On this First Sunday of Lent, as we begin our climb of the holy mountain of Easter, we hear in the first reading about Adam who was tempted and sinned; and in the Gospel we hear of Jesus who was tempted but did not sin. St. Paul tells us in the 2nd reading, “Just as through one transgression condemnation came upon all, so, through one righteous act, acquittal and life came to all.” Through disobedience sin came into the world (through Adam). Through the cross the second Adam (Jesus) brought forgiveness of sin.
We might say that if it wasn’t for Adam and Eve’s disobedience sin would have never entered the world. But think about it, we do the same thing almost every day – sin through disobedience. That is what Lent is about, to help us remember that we are sinners and we often fall short. But the good news is that through repentance and coming to the cross of Christ, we can be made clean again. Lent is to help us get back on track, to help us return home, to help us realign ourselves once again with our merciful God through prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
As disciples of Christ we are called to holiness. G.K. Chesterton once said, “A saint is someone who knows he’s a sinner.” Lent helps us “know” that we are sinners and helps us get back to striving for holiness.
As disciples during this season of mercy, strive for holiness by taking to heart what we were told on Ash Wednesday, “Repent and believe in the Gospel.”a
The readings for the 8th Sunday in Ordinary Time convey the message to the disciples of Christ that the Father loves us and will always provide for us. But as disciples something is required of us in return.
In the 1st reading from the Prophet Isaiah we hear that God’s love for us is compared to a mother’s love for her child. We know that there is no stronger love on this earth than a mother’s love for her children yet God says his love is even more perfect, “Even should she forget, I will never forget you.” The Father is saying no matter what I will always love you.
The Gospel for this Sunday is one of my favorites because it speaks to me loud and clear. The Lord is saying do not worry, I will take care of all of your needs. He tells us in a beautiful way not to worry about what we will eat or drink, or what to wear. He points out how he feeds the birds of the air and clothes the wild flowers so beautifully in splendor and tells us, “Will he not much more provide for you? And, “Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.” But in the very next verse he tells us what is required of us, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you.”
This is the key to the whole message for today. As disciples, followers of Christ, we must make Jesus and his will for the Kingdom our top priority and then all will be provided for us. He starts off the passage with, “No one can serve two masters…You cannot serve God and mammon.” In the Aramaic “mammon” meant money or possessions. Jesus is saying as his disciples we can only have one master, either it will be him or it will be the material.
If we trust in Jesus, if we seek his will in our lives above all else and as St. Paul says in the 2nd reading if we are “stewards of the mysteries of God” by sharing of our time, talents and treasure for the sake of others, we will not have to worry about our daily needs because he has given us his word that he will provide.
This is one of my favorite passages because in my younger days I was a real worrier. But since I allowed Christ to be my master and Lord I have a peace that passes all understanding. I know that if I seek first the Kingdom all will be provided for me and my family.
Disciples of Christ, trust in God, seek first his Kingdom, and all will be provided for you, he guarantees it!
The readings on the 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time are another lesson in living as a disciple of Christ Jesus. The main message for us this Sunday is proclaimed in the 1st reading from the Old Testament Book of Leviticus, “Be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy.” The word “holy” according to the Catholic Encyclopedia means “separated from the profane (world) and directed towards God.” In other words to be holy is to be separated from worldly things that are not of God. Holiness is living our lives in union with Jesus. The last part of the 1st reading shows us what holiness looks like, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
The Gospel directly follows the Gospel passages from the past two Sundays from the Sermon on the Mount. Again Jesus shows us how his disciples are to live in striving for holiness. He tells us that we must go beyond the Law by turning the other cheek, by going the extra mile and by loving not only our neighbor but also our enemies! Then to confirm his teaching he tells us what seems like the impossible, “Be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
The original meaning of “perfect” in Aramaic is “completeness” or “wholeness” – not lacking in what is essential. God gives us every good gift in Jesus Christ so that we may not lack anything we need to carry out his will and to live as his children. We know in our flesh we will never be perfect but we are called to strive for perfection, we are called to strive for holiness with the grace given to us in Jesus.
As disciples of Christ called to be separated from the world and directed toward God we know that we CAN imitate Christ in love because St. Paul reminds us in the 2nd reading, “Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” With the Spirit of God dwelling in us we are tabernacles of the Living God. With the Spirit of God dwelling in us we CAN be holy, we CAN be complete and we CAN be whole if we cooperate with the grace we are given.
Let us show the world what holiness looks like as true disciples of Christ by loving God, by loving our neighbor and yes, by even loving our enemies.s Padres!