Free from the Tomb
By Trevor Rainwater, SJ
At each of the scrutiny Masses during Lent, the readings at Mass differ to allow the Elect and the larger Christian community to uncover their own sin and weakness so as to better prepare for the joy of Easter. This Sunday, most people hear of the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11), that tells us that despite one’s sins, forgiveness is always found in Christ. Those, however, who attend the 4:30 PM Mass hear the scrutiny reading of the Raising of Lazarus (John 11:1-44). The Raising of Lazarus is a fitting Gospel to have just before Holy Week because it clearly foreshadows what will occur in two weeks on Easter Sunday. In both stories, new life overcomes the grip of sin and death. Joy and excitement replace sadness and grief; disbelief transforms into the faith. It is clear from the passage that Jesus, Mary, and Martha shared a close friendship, but Martha, nonetheless, blames Jesus for Lazarus’ death. Yet it is only through the “dead” Lazarus walking out of the tomb and Mary and Martha’s grief that Jesus reveals the glories of His Heavenly Father. Just as Lazarus, Mary, and Martha had to go through suffering and death to see a flowering and deepening of their own faith, so too can we see this aspect in our own lives today. Through Lent, we undergo a cleansing and renewal of our faith in preparation for the joy of Easter. As we journey with Jesus and his disciples in these final days of Lent, we continue our quest to see Christ as the giver of new life in order to love God more deeply. Thus, what “tomb” do you want Jesus to free you from? In other words, just as Lazarus needed freedom from his burial clothes after walking out of the tomb, what parts in your life need to be “unbound” and exposed to the light of Christ? Or if you heard the Gospel of the adulterous woman, what are the “public” sins you carry and wish to let go of? Remember, Jesus waits to set you free through the sacrament of Confession!
Sunday’s Readings: Isaiah 43.16-21 Psalm 126 Philippians 3.8-14 John 8.1-11
Laetare Sunday By Stefani Bedin This Sunday is often called Laetare Sunday, a name which refers to the first word of the Entrance Antiphon for the Fourth Sunday of Lent: “Laetare, Jerusalem” (“Rejoice, O Jerusalem”). The Church is encouraging us to rejoice! We are approximately halfway through our Lenten journey, and we are invited to look forward, with joyful anticipation, to Easter, which is just three weeks away. Today, we momentarily break from some of the austerities of the penitential season. This spirit of rejoicing is reflected in our liturgies, which differ somewhat from the other Sundays of Lent. The pipe organ, which since the beginning of Lent has been used at Sunday liturgies solely to support singing, today also offers solo music—preludes and postludes. Flowers are permitted in the sanctuary. You may have also noticed the priest wearing rose-coloured vestments. These vestments are only worn on one other day of the liturgical year, the Third Sunday of Advent, or Gaudete Sunday, another time when we are specially invited to be joyful. The readings also remind us there are many reasons to rejoice. In the Parable of the Prodigal Son, we hear that the father celebrates over the return of his lost son. During Lent, when we are especially reminded to repent and seek forgiveness, we find joy in knowing that our God is loving and merciful. May this Sunday bring us refreshment and strengthen our faith and hope as we continue to journey toward Holy Week and Easter.
Joshua 5.9a, 10-12
2 Corinthians 5.17-21
Luke 15.1-3, 11-32
Relationships and Second Chances
By Elizabeth Chesley-Jewell
Lent is a struggle for many of us. We strive to develop better habits, but it is a challenge to stay on course. The readings for this week remind us to focus on the strong relationship we have with Jesus and how failure does not necessarily equal disownment by our God. The man who comes upon the barren fig tree in our Gospel speaks of it the way we often speak about ourselves. “Cut it down. Why should it be wasting soil?” How often do we believe we are of no value because we have made a mistake or given in to temptation? Instead of saying to ourselves, “I have done something wrong or bad”, we believe we are bad and not worth the time of others. Each one of us has good fruit to bear but we cannot do it if we refuse to acknowledge that we are inherently good and have much to contribute to the world. It is the gardener who speaks on behalf of the fig tree. He asks that he be given some time to prune and care for the tree so that it will be able to bear fruit. This is Jesus our Lord. If we place ourselves entirely in His care, He will take away the things that block us from bearing good fruit; our self-doubt, hesitations and fears. We are not able to bear fruit if we close ourselves off from the one who loves us unconditionally. Since we are humans, and not trees, this requires immense work on our part as we must let go of all ego and pride and open ourselves up to God. Because of this the Sacrament of Confession can feel like a daunting task. This is why we require preparation. We admit that we deserve Gods love and let go of all the things that keep us from it. We do just as much work as the gardener. God longs to have a relationship with us and we long to have a relationship with God. In our first reading Moses looks upon the burning bush and asks for God’s name. God responds with, “I Am.” A name is so important because it sets up the possibility of fostering a relationship. We know God’s name, but it is so difficult to allow ourselves to feel the overwhelming love that comes with the knowledge that God knows our name. It is another way that we are hindered from bearing fruit. Yet, God is still here and loving us in all our humanity. Today let us pray that each of us may look more kindly on ourselves so we may have the courage to bear the good fruit that God intended us to bear, and share it with the world. Sunday’s Readings: Exodus 3.1-8a, 13-15 Psalm 103 1 Corinthians 10.1-6, 10-12 Luke 13.1-9