The Forth Sunday of Lent is also called “Laetare” Sunday. Laetare is Latin for “rejoice.” It’s kind of like an invitation to step back and take a breath. Just for today, take a break from the extra-serious and ‘heavy’ side of Lent. Time also to rejoice…..
Not surprising, all the readings have a common theme of an invitation to rejoice, to celebrate. The first reading describes the end of the Hebrew’s quest to be delivered from slavery and their entry into the Promised Land. They celebrated the Passover to recall and relive – to make ‘present’ the moment of their liberation from slavery, and experienced the abundance of their new home. There was a cost; the manna stopped, and they had to work to enjoy their harvests. The second speaks of a new creation, and that is cause for celebration. It also comes with a cost: this new creation requires us to be reconciled to God. And it calls us to invite others to reconciliation. What a wonderful message for the present Year of Mercy!
And the Gospel reading, we have once more the story of the Prodigal Son (perhaps it should be known as the ‘forgiving father’?). In the figure of the Father, we heard of God rejoicing at the conversion of heart of a lost son. When as sinner repent, it is really an occasion to heaven to rejoice.
The father celebrates in a big way, the return of the son, for he according to the father, the son “was dead and has come to life; he was lost and is found”. This is how God rejoices at every repentant heart, at the return of every sinner. Come to be reconciled at the parish Lenten Reconciliation on ??? – several priests will be here.