March 15, 2015

Laetare

March 15, 2015:  Fourth Sunday of Lent / Laetare Sunday

See 11 connections with
today's readings and celebration?
Legend below

Listen

Pope Francis
To "Follow me" lay association:  Lay people are called to permeate family, work, and society with Christian values through their witness and by meeting people in concrete situations, so that they may live in full dignity and be reached by the salvation of Christ.  Jesus is fullness for every person, revealing the mystery of the Father and of his love.  You're immersed in the world and committed to serving the human good.  Be on the front lines; be leaven, putting Gospel spirit in history's wounds with the witness of faith, hope, and love.
Often we believe we're good Christians because we do social and charitable work, but don't forget the lifeblood that transforms hearts is the Spirit of Christ.  Let the Lord occupy your heart and work.  Preserve and to develop fraternal communion and exchange of talents.  Be vigilant and help each other to practice mutual charity, fending off egoism to be witnesses of the Gospel,
Read

  • 2 Chr 36:14-16, 19-23  Judah's princes, priests, and people practiced abominations and polluted the temple.  The Lord sent them messengers, but they mocked them and despised his warnings till his anger was inflamed beyond remedy.  Enemies burnt the temple and Jerusalem's palaces.  Those who escaped were captured and became servants.  King Cyrus proclaimed, “God has given me all kingdoms of the earth and charged me to build him a house.  Let all who belong to his people go up....”
  • Ps 137:1-6  "Let my tongue be silenced, if I ever forget you!"  We sat and wept remembering Zion by Babylon's streams, hanging up our harps on its aspens.  Our despoilers:  “Sing for us the songs of Zion!”  How could we?  Jerusalem, may I always remember you!
  • Eph 2:4-10  God, rich in mercy, brought us to life with Christ, raising us up with him, that he might show us the riches of his grace.  By grace you've been saved through faith.  We're his handiwork, created in Christ for the good works God has prepared, that we should live in them.
  • Jn 3:14-21  Jesus to Nicodemus:  “As Moses lifted up the serpent, so must the Son be lifted up, so everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”  God so loved the world that he gave his Son, so everyone who believes in him might have life.  God didn't send his Son to condemn the world but to save it.  Whoever believes won't be condemned, but whoever doesn't has already been condemned.  The light came into the world, but people preferred darkness; everyone who does evil hates the light lest their works be exposed, but all who live the truth come to the light so their works may be seen as done in God.
Reflect
  • Creighton:  Today, Laetare Sunday, the entrance antiphon begins with “Rejoice” (laetare).  The opening prayer and readings tell us the cause for rejoicing:  God reconciles us to himself, reaching out in mercy to save us, calling us to return to him.  Jesus reminded Nicodemus of God’s mercy during the Israelites’ wilderness sojourn:  they rebelled and were afflicted by seraph serpents, but when they cried out, God ordered Moses to mount a [bronze] serpent for them to look on for healing, foreshadowing the Cross.  The 1st reading recounts Israel’s mounting rebellion and the resulting devastation and exile.  But God offered them a new start, through a foreign king's mercy, Cyrus.  Paul describes God as “rich in mercy,” and John expresses it, “God so loved the world....”  God holds nothing back to extend compassion to us, to restore our life and relationships with him and each another.  May we pour ourselves out through loving service....
  • One Bread One Body:  "Suffering Joy":  Many of ask how they can rejoice in their bad situations, but God commands us not to rejoice in circumstances but in him. The Lord has been rich in mercy, bringing us to life with Christ when we were dead in sin, giving us eternal life.  If we give our lives to Jesus, we have reason to rejoice.  Our love for him will free us from slavery to circumstances, even seeing them as reasons for joy in proportion to our sufferings.
  • Passionist:  The 1st reading is about the last years of David's kingdom when pagan practices entered into Jews' religious life.  Restoration came only 70 years later through the Persian King Cyrus. As they came to a deeper appreciation of how God works, we much search for signs of how God is dealing with us today.  “God, rich in mercy, brought us to life in Christ to show the riches of his grace ....”  “God so loved the world that he gave his Son....”  Through Jesus a powerful force is at work in our hearts and minds:  the power of love.
  • DailyScripture.net:  Prophets spoke of God's faithfulness and compassion. Jesus prophesied to Nicodemus that his death would bring healing, forgiveness, rebirth in the Spirit, and eternal life:  the 'Son of Man' must be lifted up to bring God's power to bear.  The title came from Daniel for the Anointed Messiah King sent from heaven to rule the earth.  When kings began to reign, they were "lifted up" and enthroned.  Jesus told Nicodemus he'd be recognized as the Anointed when he was "lifted up" on the cross.  To foreshadow his saving work. Jesus pointed to the sign of Moses lifting up the serpent to heal rebellious Israelites of serpent bites.
Cyril of Alexandria re how bronze serpent points to Christ:  "The serpent signifies sin devouring the human race, biting us and infusing us with evil; only heaven could save us.  God's Word was made flesh, 'that he might condemn sin in the flesh'; he became Giver of salvation to those who gaze on him with faith.  But the serpent signifies that Christ was manifested by his passion, so none could fail to see him." (Commentary on John 2.1, paraphrased)
The serpent points to the Cross that defeats sin and death and obtains life for believers.  The result of Jesus' "being lifted up," resurrection, exaltation, and ascension is our "new birth in the Spirit" and adoption as God's children.  God frees us from sin, pardons us, and fills us with life through his Spirit in us.  We know God loves us and wants us with him because he gave us the best he had, his Son who offered himself for us.  God's redemptive love that embraces the world is a personal love for each person; he can't rest till we've returned to him.  We can love sin and unbelief or the light of God’s truth, beauty, and goodness.  If what's true, beautiful, and good guides us, we'll choose and love God.  Do I give God first place in your life?
  • Thanks to Universalis:  Bl. John Anne, priest, martyr (though trumped by Laetare Sunday)
Dress legend
  • 'Sword' tie pin:  Those who escaped the sword were carried captive (1st reading) 
  • Rose-colored shirt:  Laetare Sunday
  • 'Tree' pin:  We hung up our harps on the aspens (psalm)
  • 'Hand' tie pin:  If I forget you, may my right hand be forgotten! (psalm); we are God's handiwork (2nd reading)
  • 'Serpent' tie pin:  “As Moses lifted up the serpent, so must the Son be lifted up” (gospel)
  • 'Hearts' suspenders:  God so loved the world that he gave his only Son (gospel) 
  • '[Christmas] lights' tie:  Light came into the world, but people preferred darkness... but those who live the truth come to the light... (gospel)
  • 'Eyeball' tie pin:  ...so that their works may be seen as done in God (gospel); "See/Ver" theme of Religious Education Congress
  • 'St. Bede' button:  our delegation at Congress