From the Pastor's Desk
4thSunday of Lent
The Fourth Sunday of Lent is called Lætare (Rejoice) Sunday, from the first words of today’s liturgy.
As on Gaudete Sunday in Advent, rose-colored vestments may replace violet, and flowers may grace the altar, symbolizing the Church's joy in anticipation of the Resurrection of Our Lord.
In the first reading, taken from the Second Book of Chronicles, we learn the compassion and patience of God. God chose Cyrus the Great, a pagan conqueror, to become the instrument of His mercy to, and salvation of, His chosen people exiled in Babylon.
In today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 137), the Psalmist voices the pain of exile the captives of Judah suffered.
In the second reading, Paul tells us that God is so rich in mercy that He has granted us eternal salvation and eternal life as a free gift through Christ Jesus.
Today’s Gospel provides a theme that parallels the Gospel, but on a much higher level. Jesus, the Son of God, becomes the agent of God's salvation, not just for one sinful nation but for the sinfulness of the whole world. Through John 3:16, the Gospel teaches us that God has expressed His love, mercy, and compassion for us by giving His only Son for our salvation. Nicodemus, the wealthy Pharisee and member of the Sanhedrin, meets Jesus by night and begins a long religious discussion. Jesus explains to him that he must believe Jesus’ words because Jesus is the Son of God, and, by referring to the story of Moses and the bronze serpent (Nm 21:1-9), further explains God’s plan of salvation. Just as God saved the victims of serpent bite from death through the bonze serpent, He is going to save mankind from its sins by permitting the crucifixion and death of His Son Jesus, because the love of God for mankind is that great.
1) We need to love the cross, the symbol of God’s forgiving and merciful love: As a forceful reminder not only of God's love and mercy, but also of the price of our salvation, the crucifix invites us to more than simple generosity and compassion. It inspires us to remove the suffering of other people’s misery. It encourages us not only to feel deep sorrow for another’s suffering, but also to try our best to remove that suffering. Hence, let us love the cross, wear its image, and carry our own daily cross with joy, while helping other to carry their heavier crosses.
2) We need to reciprocate God’s love by loving others. God’s love is unconditional, universal, forgiving, and merciful. Let us try to make an earnest attempt to include these qualities in sharing our love with others during Lent.
3) Our rebirth by water and the Spirit must be an ongoing process. That is, we must lead a life of repentance and conversion which will bring us, with the help of the Holy Spirit living within us, to an ongoing renewal of life through prayer, Bible reading, frequenting the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Holy Eucharist, and doing corporal and spiritual works of of mercy.