Today's Scriptural Meditation Readings:
March 14 A..D. 2010
Scripture from today's Liturgy of the Word:
Psalm 34: 2-3, 4-5, 6-7
2 Corinthians 5:17-21
Luke 15:1-3, 11-32
A reflection on today's Scripture:
Our beloved Catholic Church is chocked full of traditions and practices that originated in the dim past. The blessing of the throats, ashes, and blessing oneself with the sign of the Cross are only a few. On this Fourth Sunday of Lent, the celebrant at Mass surprises the congregation as he appears in rose-colored vestments. In Lent, of all times! It all goes back to the custom of the Pope sending a golden rose on this day to Catholic heads-of-state, and sometimes to churches and shrines, like Our Lady of Knock shrine in Ireland. (If you want to learn a lot more, type in "Laetare Sunday" on Google.)
The key word for the day is "rejoice!" In the first reading, Joshua tells the Israelites to rejoice because God has removed their shame at being slaves in Egypt. They're finally in the Promised Land. Now, if we have been praying, reflecting on God's Will for us, and making some changes in living our Christian lives this Lent, then we too can expect God's approval.
The high point today is in the Gospel. When the Pharisees were complaining that Jesus was too soft on sinners, even eating with them, the Master tells them the great story of the Prodigal Son, who spent everything of his inheritance foolishly and sinfully. Yet, the father (who represents God) forgives his son even more foolishly (at least the older brother thinks so). If we want to identify with that younger sinner (and most of us do), then we will rejoice in the mercy and forgiveness of the Father!
If we're honest, we should also see in our lives many characteristics of that smug and self-righteous older brother. We wonder what the rest of the story was like. Did he eventually get over his anger and join the party? We like to think that a whole new relationship developed between the brothers.
Life is so short! Carrying grudges just makes what little time we have so unpleasant. Forgiveness frees us from unhappiness, and opens up the floodgates of joy. It even improves our health. That father of theirs must have been a joyful man. We know one thing - that Jesus was teaching us a lesson about the mercy of God the Father through this famous parable.
I love that T-shirt that says, "Christians aren't perfect, just forgiven!" Can't you imagine how very joyously and gratefully that prodigal son must have lived his life after being restored to respectable family status?
In today's second reading from II Corinthians, Paul reminds us that "Whoever is in Christ is a new creation; the old things have passed away; behold new things have come."
So what "new things" are we called to?
Paul tells us that God has given us a ministry - the ministry of reconciliation. As it was Christ's ministry on earth, so now it is our ministry to encourage the discouraged, and to give hope to those who are hopeless and despairing of God's mercy. God Himself pleads through us, for we are "ambassadors for Christ." An ambassador works, not through force or recrimination, but through diplomacy. For us, it means treating all we meet with the example of our love and concern, without judging their past behavior.
And so, our journey to Easter continues!
~ Msgr. Paul Whitmore | email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday, March 14, 2010
Fourth Sunday of Lent (Laetare Sunday)
Lives of the saints:
Full Scripture text from today's Liturgy of the Word:
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