Fourth Sunday of Lent (Laetare Sunday), March 14
During This Season of Lent, May We Never Doubt and Always Rejoice in the Love Which God Has for Each of Us, Always Surrendering Ourselves to His Divine Will in Our Lives.
We read today from Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians, “God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love he had for us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, brought us to life with Christ.”
And in His “great love”, you and I, as faithful Christians following the Word of God in our daily lives, are filled with a joyful hope, a hope which strengthens and encourages us in times of trial and personal struggles, a hope which endures and continues to carry us forward, amidst all the distractions and temptations in life.
And there are many distractions and temptations which call to us to leave the narrow path upon which we walk in our relationship with God. For the path to sin and spiritual darkness is wide and easy to travel, and the many seductions in this world encourage us to embrace a way of life which separates us from Eternal Love.
We see this in the form of media entertainment which promotes and embraces all forms of immorality – promiscuity and pre-marital sex, same-sex attractions and homosexual conduct, disdain and ridicule of anything which speaks of decency and chastity in the choices one makes in life. And this is but a short-list of a much greater reality which constantly assaults our senses!
Several years ago, there was a public outcry from many in the entertainment industry and the liberal media in response to remarks made by Kirk Cameron, an actor known for his work in both television and movies, especially Christian-based movies, in which he expressed his personal views against the gay lifestyle and abortion – all resulting from a TV interview he had on an international news network program.
His opinion of embracing a moral lifestyle, and being critical of that which is amoral, ran counter to what the majority in his industry held (and still holds) to be acceptable and preferable. Just for expressing his beliefs in what is contained in the Bible, his words were labeled by many as “hate speech”. And those from the entertainment industry who came to Mr. Cameron’s defense were “few and far between”.
Not to be judgmental, but rather from the position of making an objective observation, I believe that those who decried Mr. Cameron’s words of belief and faith are an example of our Lord’s statement in today’s Gospel, “…people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed.”
Yet, in spite of the darkness which is all around us, it is God’s Truth which our Lord calls us to embrace; it is the path to personal sanctity and righteousness upon which you and I are invited to travel, as we grow and develop and mature in our thoughts, and in our words and deeds.
In this process of our growing, we know that, in the frailty of our human nature, there will be times in our lives when we will stumble and fall. Yet, for the believer, no matter what our faith persuasion may be, we know that we have a God who is rich in Mercy and Love!
And it is during this season of Lent that we are reminded that His Merciful Love is always available for the asking, for it is God’s desire that no one be lost, no matter how great his or her sins may be – for there is no sin that His Divine Mercy cannot erase, if only we reach out to Him with a truly contrite (sorrowful) and humbled heart and seek His forgiveness.
The Scriptures were written to teach us of God’s Love and Mercy for His children; they were written to instruct and guide us into an intimate and loving relationship with the One who has created and saved us, and constantly calls and invites us to be in oneness with Himself.
And in our Gospel today, John reminds us of that which is eternally true – “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.”
To know that we are “saved” through the Love of God, and the Paschal sacrifice which His Son accepted for our salvation, fills our hearts with a joyful hope and expectation of our being united with our Lord and Savior for all eternity!
For it is today, on this Fourth Sunday in Lent that we are called to rejoice in God’s compassionate and merciful Love for each and every one of us, His children. It is today, which we call Laetare Sunday, that the color rose is oftentimes used for the Mass vestments, a color denoting joy.
Laetare Sunday is also known as Rose Sunday or Rejoice Sunday, and it has its counterpart in Advent – Gaudete Sunday, the Third Sunday of Advent, when purple vestments are exchanged for the color rose.
The point of both Liturgical days is to provide us with encouragement as we progress toward the end of each respective penitential season – to which we respond with joyful anticipation in experiencing God’s Love in our lives.
And our God is truly a God of Love! He is a God of compassion, “…bestowing mercy down to the thousandth generation, on the children of those who love [Him] and keep [His] commandments.” – words which we find in both the Books of Deuteronomy and Exodus.
During this season of Lent, may you and I never doubt the Love which God has for each of us, nor take for granted the Mercy which our Heavenly Father wishes to bestow upon us, His children. Rather, may each of us, with heartfelt humility, always surrender ourselves to His Divine will in our lives, imploring His Mercy and forgiveness for those times in which we have fallen astray from His Love.
For we are truly God’s “…handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them.” – In this, we truly realize our joy! In this, we truly rejoice!
May God bless you, God love you, and may God always keep you. †
Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.
Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.
Scripture for the Day
- “God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love he had for us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, brought us to life with Christ.” (Ephesians 2:4-5a)
- “Now the works of the flesh are obvious: immorality, impurity, licentiousness…those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19, 21b)
- “Avoid immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the immoral person sins against his own body.” (1 Corinthians 6:18)
- “…people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed.” (John 3:19b-20)
- “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.” (Matthew 7:13-14)
- “Jesus again said to them in reply, ‘Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.’ They were exceedingly astonished and said among themselves, ‘Then who can be saved?’ Jesus looked at them and said, ‘For human beings it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God.’” (Mark 10:24b-27)
- “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:16-17)
- “For I, the LORD, your God…bestow mercy down to the thousandth generation, on the children of those who love me and keep my commandments.” (Deuteronomy 5:9b, 10; cf. Exodus 20:2a, 6)
- “For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)
- “Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4)
Prayer for the Day
“Lord Jesus, our Glorious Savior,Anonymous
we humbly give to You our lives;
do with us as Your Divine Providence wills,
for Your greater honor and glory.
“Make our lives useful to Your service.
The only ambition we have is to humbly
and honestly listen to You and fulfill Your Divine will.
In this, we wish to lift up Your Name, Lord Jesus, not ours.
“We desire to make known the power of Your Spirit,
the Holy Spirit of Divine Love and Truth.
We want You to claim us for Yourself,
and use us according to Your Divine purpose.
“And no matter the task
which You assign to us in life,
we will be contented and full of joy
to fulfill our purpose as disciples of Your Spirit.
“Lord Jesus, may Your Holy Spirit live in us always,
guiding us to live a virtuous and fruitful life,
always pleasing to You and helpful to our neighbor,
as we help to build up the Body of Christ here on Earth.
“Fill our lives with meaning and our hearts with hope.
And when our time here is complete,
bless us with eternal life in Your Heavenly Kingdom.
Jesus, we pray this in Your Most Holy Name. Amen.”