Sunday, March 15, 2015

What's so Laetare about it?

Pope-Emeritus Benedict
wearing the traditional rose-coloured vestments
 for Laetare Sunday 
(not a recent photo, of course)

Today, the 4th Sunday of Lent is traditionally known as Laetare Sunday, or "Rejoicing Sunday" (and also by some other names). There is a nice explanation at Fathers for Good, an initiative of the Knights of Columbus.

Our parish priest who is (rejoice!) finally well enough to say Mass gave a very beautiful homily today. The central message of Christianity, he said (and I paraphrase, because I did not --regrettably-- have a recording device handy. The homily was that good) is that we are "forever loved by God." 

Wow, just let that sink in for a minute. We are FOREVER loved by God. That means always and everywhere. We always have been loved, even before we were conceived, all through every moment of our lives; all through our sins and failings--past, present and future. We are loved now, today, at this moment; we will always be loved. How much? This is how much (from the Gospel reading for today):

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 

Yeah, I don't have to give you that citation; you know it (John 3:16), the one bible verse that everyone on the planet knows. We know it so well, we almost treat it as a cliche. But don't. It's pretty mind-blowing that God would give up his only Son for us. It's amazing enough that God would love us (as He does) despite all our sins and failings, but even more amazing that he cares enough to want to TAKE ALL THAT NEGATIVE CRAP AWAY FROM OUR LIVES.

That's what struck we about Father's homily today. He repeated that phrase a couple of times: "He takes it away..." He takes away all our pain, sin, suffering. He takes it away. Ponder on that the next time you say the Lamb of God at Mass. He takes it away. By his suffering, death and resurrection, Jesus gives us the gift of eternal life. All we have to do is believe in him and follow him.

And that's worth rejoicing over. Have a blessed remainder of the Lenten season, as we enter the final weeks before Easter.

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