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Pastor’s Corner 3.10.2024

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

On this 4th Sunday of Lent many priests exercise the option of wearing rose colored vestments to commemorate Laetare Sunday. The title comes from the Latin word that begins the entrance antiphon for the Mass today, “Rejoice, Jerusalem, and all who love her. Be joyful, all who were in mourning; exalt and be satisfied at her consoling breast.” This change in vestment color indicates a brief reprieve from the rigors of Lent (for example flowers are allowed on the altar on this day) and offers a glimpse of the joy that awaits us at Easter, just before we enter into the somber days of Passiontide.

The first reading today tells the story of the Babylonian exile of the Jews around 590 BC. It implies that all the sufferings that came upon the Jews were the result of their infidelity to God, but God in all His mystery used a pagan king, Cyrus of Persia, as His instrument to restore the Jews to their homeland and rebuild their temple. It reveals, I believe, the fidelity of God even when His people are unfaithful. It reveals God’s steadfast love for His people that endures and is salvific even when the people are weak in faith.

The Gospel passage from the third chapter of St. John’s Gospel is one that is familiar to many. “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.” The emphasis here is on God’s fidelity, on His love for us.

Our Lenten focus is traditionally on our sins, on how we fail to honor God. But Lent should also cause us to focus on God’s fidelity, God’s merciful love offered to us sinners. A great remedy for sin is a keen awareness of just how much we are loved by God. We so often strive to avoid sin out of our sense of obedience or obligation. But a more powerful remedy for sin is the motivation of genuine love. If we really appreciate how much God loves us, we might try to avoid sin, not out of fear, but out of a desire to please the One who loves us.

Find time between now and Holy Week to reflect on how much God loves you. He gave you life, He sustains you daily, He blesses you with many good things and He came in the flesh, suffering humiliation, pain and finally death – all out of love for you. Better appreciating God’s love for us can change us.

Sincerely yours in Christ Jesus, the Way, the Truth and the Life