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Laetare Sunday - Rejoice Sunday

Homily 03 10 2013
4th Sunday of Lent C


View the Readings for this day

The fourth Sunday of Lent marks the midpoint in the Lenten preparation for Easter. Traditionally, it is called Laetare Sunday (Rejoice Sunday). So, we have the pink vestments and environment today.


This Sunday is set aside for us to recall God's graciousness and to rejoice because of it. In many ways we have been dead, but through God's grace we have come to life again; we have been lost, but have now been found.

We have every reason to rejoice.

Hence, each of the three readings characterizes one of the many facets of Easter joy.

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.

Their joy is one of promises fulfilled. The refrain of today's psalm might be used as a response to all three readings: "Taste and see the goodness of the Lord."

The second reading joyfully proclaims the effect of Jesus' saving act as the reconciliation of all peoples to the Father. In the gospel, the joy is that of a young son's "coming home" and rediscovering a father's forgiving and gratuitous love.

It is also the story 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.

It is really the Parable of the Forgiving Father, the story of divine love and mercy for us sinners, a love that is almost beyond belief.

The common theme of joy resulting from reconciliation with God and other human beings is announced to all of us present in this church - an assembly of sinful people, ready to receive God's forgiveness and His Personal Presence as a forgiving God in the Holy Eucharist.

The story of the Prodigal Son was told to those who complained that "this man welcomes sinners and eats with them." We're familiar with this story about a son who shamed his family by asking for his inheritance, who squandered it all in hedonistic excess, then found himself on skid row eating pig food.

But as we just saw, people who hit rock bottom often know quite a bit about repentance, and this man "came to his senses."

While the son was still far off, the father, utterly undignified for the Orient, ran to him and embraced him. Instead of treating him as a hired hand, as the son had requested, he celebrated him as an honored guest - with a robe, a ring and a party.

Why does Jesus eat with sinners?

Because that's what God is like. He's good and gracious. He loves without conditions or limits. He's full of compassion for us in the midst of our brokenness. He pays a full day's wages for one hour of work.

But watch out for the religiously righteous.

They can be like the elder brother who resented his father's lavish grace, or like Jonah who complained when the Ninevites repented and God forgave them.

Many people, Jesus warns us in another parable, are "confident of their own righteousness and look down on everybody else." Some people have a need to be right, and to be seen as being right.

In the epistle this week, Paul says that "God gave us this ministry of reconciliation." Do real sinners feel really welcome in our churches?

And here's a radical idea - extend this divine mercy to your own self, for that's what God has already done.

Much of the poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889) is characterized by darkness and despair, reflecting his lifelong interior struggles.

After converting to Catholicism, which estranged him from his Anglican family, Hopkins burned much of the poetry he had written, and even stopped writing for seven years. After ordination as a Jesuit priest, an assignment in Ireland left him feeling isolated and melancholy, thus giving rise to his so-called "terrible sonnets."

But somewhere in his darkness, Hopkins felt God's light. He moved beyond self-reproach to divine acceptance. In one of my favorite poems, My Own Heart, he describes an interior conversation about accepting "God's smile" upon his life.

My own heart let me more have pity on; let Me live to my sad self hereafter kind, Charitable; not live this tormented mind With this tormented mind tormenting yet. I cast for comfort I can no more get By groping round my comfortless, than blind Eyes in their dark can day or thirst can find Thirst's all-in-all in all a world of wet. Soul, self; come, poor Jackself, I do advise You, jaded, let be; call off thoughts awhile Elsewhere; leave comfort root-room; let joy size At God knows when to God knows what; whose smile 's not wrung, see you; unforeseen times rather - as skies Between pie mountains - lights a lovely mile.

Accept one another. And accept that God accepts you.

Lent is a time to "pass over," from a world of sin to a world of reconciliation.

The story of the prodigal son asks each of us an important question: Will you accept the Father's forgiveness and partake of the banquet, or will you remain outside?

Lent is a time to transform hatred into love, conflict into peace, death into eternal life. The message of Lent, therefore, as St. Paul tells us, is: "We implore you, in Christ's name: be reconciled to God."

The first step, of course, is to do as the younger son did: "When he came to himself, he said: 'I will break away and return to my father, and say to him, "Father, I have sinned against you."'

At every Mass, we come to our loving Heavenly Father's house as prodigal children.

We begin the Mass acknowledging that we have sinned and have closed our hearts to God's perfect love: ("I no longer deserve to be called your child, so do with me as you will").

Next, we listen to the Word that heals our broken and imperfect relationships with God ("say the Word and I shall be healed").

In the Offertory, we offer 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 feast of reconciliation of the Holy Eucharist, the gift of unity with God and with His whole family, thus restoring a fully loving, give-and-take relationship with Him and His family of our fellow-human beings.

Let us come to the house of God as often as we can, be reconciled with God, our forgiving Father, asking His pardon and forgiveness, and enjoy God's banquet of reconciliation and acceptance from the altar, prepared for us, the returned prodigal sons and daughters.

And a final story that truly shows the need of many to receive forgiveness from the Father:

In his book, What's So Amazing About Grace, Phillip Yancey tells the story of Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway grew up in a very devout evangelical family, yet there he never experienced the grace of Christ.

He lived a libertine life that most of us would call "dissolute"... but there was no father, no parent waiting for him and he sank into the mire of a graceless depression.

A short story he wrote perhaps reveals the grace that he hoped for. It is the story of a Spanish father who decided to be reconciled with his son who had run away to Madrid.

The father, in a moment of remorse, took out this ad in El Libro, a newspaper. "Paco, meet me at Hotel Montana, Noon, Tuesday... All is forgiven... Papa."

When the father arrived at the square in hopes of meeting his son, he found eight hundred Pacos waiting to be reunited with their fathers.

Was Paco such a popular name? Or is a father's forgiveness the salve for every soul?


Home Homilies Homily 03 10 2013

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Mass Schedule

Saint Aloysius
Tue - Fri - 8:30am
Sat - 5:00pm
Sun - 10:30am

Holy Days
8:30am & 7:00pm

First Friday
8:30am followed by Adoration until 7:55pm

- After weekday Mass
- Before Sat & Sun Mass
- Mon - 3:00pm

Sat - 3:30pm - 4:30pm
Or by appointment

Our Lady Of Lourdes
Sun - 8:30am

Before Sunday Mass

Find Us

Saint Aloysius
211 West Mason Ave.
Buckley, WA 98321
Phone: 360-829-6515
Fax: 360-829-5190
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Office Hours
Tue - Fri 9am - 12:00pm

Our Lady Of Lourdes
506 Ash Street
Wilkeson, WA 98396
Phone: 360-829-6515
Fax: 360-829-5190
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