From the Pastor's Desk
QUESTION OF THE WEEK:Who I need to reconcile with? What can I do over the next three weeks to reconcile with them?
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.
In the first reading, the Chosen People of God are portrayed as celebrating, for the first time in their own land, the feast of their freedom, by using wheat that had grown in the Promised Land.
In today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 34), a rejoicing Psalmist invites us, “Glorify the Lord with me; let us together extol His Name!”
In the second reading, St. Paul invites the Corinthian Christian community to rejoice because Jesus has reconciled them with God by his suffering and death.
Today’s Gospel celebrates the joy of the prodigal son on his “homecoming” where he discovers his father’s forgiving and overflowing love. It is also the story of the rejoicing of a loving and forgiving father who celebrates the return of his prodigal son by throwing a big party in his honor, a banquet celebrating the reconciliation of the son with his father, his family, his community and his God. At the same time, by presenting a self-righteous elder brother, the parable invites us to avoid self-righteousness and self-justification by imitating the repentant younger brother. Let us admit the truth that we are an assembly of sinful people, repentant, and now ready to receive God’s forgiveness and to experience Jesus’ Personal Presence in the Holy Eucharist as our loving and forgiving God.
1) Let us return to our Heavenly Father with repentant hearts: As prodigal children, we face spiritual famine all around us in the form of drug and alcohol abuse, fraud and theft in the workplace, murders, abortions and violence, premarital sex, marital infidelity and priestly infidelity, as well as in hostility between and among people. All of these evils have proliferated because we have been squandering God’s abundant blessings, not only in our country and in our families, but also in our personal lives. Hence, let us repent and return to our Heavenly Father’s home.
2) 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.