Sunday, March 22, 2009

Fourth Sunday of Lent - Laetare Sunday

Dear All,

The Fourth Sunday of Lent is Laetare Sunday.  From the Latin it means joy at one stage of our Lenten journey.  Rose colored vestments and flowers on the altar are signs of the Church's joy.

This week’s readings are about faith and behavior, good and bad in the history of God’s people.  The First Reading from the Old Testament – 2nd Book of Chronicles reports about bad behaviors -infidelities, practicing abominations, polluting– of leaders –princes, priests- and people, ignoring –mocking, despising- the messengers that God had sent over time.  This bad behavior and reluctance to repent leads to destruction of the Temple, palaces and the walls of Jerusalem and those that escaped the sword end up in the seventy year Babylonian captivity.  The subject of bad behavior is characterized in John’s Gospel as staying in the darkness doing wicked things, earning condemnation.

In the Second Reading, the apostle Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians helps us understand one of the central questions about faith, which is the gift of God.  Salvation does not come from good works.  It is by grace through faith, which is a gift from God.  Every time I come across this passage, I need to take a deep breath and slow down a moment, read it a few times and just let it float in my head for a while.  Often I end up with an immense sense of gratitude about this precious gift of eternal life.  It is so godly and so counter-intuitive of all the other goodies in life which have to be earned.  We can all relax and enjoy the moment of this notion of the great gift.

John’s Gospel tells about Jesus’ teaching to his timid, well-read disciple Nicodemus, and to us, about the great mystery of the Resurrection as a precursor to eternal life.  The famous passage of John 3:16, so often quoted and referenced by many, is about God’s love for the world and offering up his only Son for salvation of all.  We started reflecting about the consequences of bad behavior and end with the teaching of John that good behavior may be clearly seen by God, as it brings it to the light that came into the world.

To me today, this means that the consequences of un-repented bad behavior are condemnation.  Yet God’s mercy is unlimited, always available to redeem us, like he did bring back the Israelites form Babylon, with the only requirement of our repentance.  The relationship between God’s offering of his only son and salvation is one of the great mysteries, which I include into the categories of things I still don’t fully understand.  However I am free to hope that one day I may.  In the meantime I can relax, as the greatest of all, salvation to eternal life, is a free gift.  Gratitude and Joy –Laetare- is the response I choose.

A complete text of the readings at:

With God’s Love and Blessings,



P.S.  Please include Astrid’s boyfriend, Simo in your prayers, for the healing of whatever is causing some nasty back pains.


  1. You and all whom you love are in my prayers. I can't thank you enough for this blog. Reading here is such a blessed way to begin or end my day.

    Much love in Christ,

  2. Rainer-

    Thanks for the inspiring words about our faith, and the awesome gift of life. You also reminded me this is Laetare Sunday, and rose ribbons and in order for Euicharistic Ministers. I understand both you and Nora have received your training. It is a wonderful ministry.With great affection whereever you are,