4th Sunday of Lent - "Laetare" Sunday of Joy
Rejoice, O Jerusalem, and meet together all you who love her; rejoice exceedingly, you who have been in sorrow, that you may leap for joy, and be satiated with comfort from her breasts. Psalm. I rejoiced at the things that were said to me: we shall go into the house of the Lord.
Grant, we beseech Thee, O almighty God, that we, who are justly afflicted according to our demerits, may be relieved by Thy comforting grace.
Lesson of the Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle to the Galatians, Chap. IV.
Brethren: It is written that Abraham had two sons; the one by a bond-woman, and the other by a free-woman. But he who was of the bondwoman was bom according to the flesh; but he by the free-woman, was by promise. Which things are said by an allegory. For these are the two testaments. The one from Mount Sina, engendering unto bondage, which is Agar; for Sina is a mountain in Arabia, which has affinity to that Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. But that Jerusalem, which is above, is free; which is our mother. For it is written: Rejoice, thou barren, that bearest not: break forth and cry, thou that travailest not; for many are the children of the desolate, more than of her that hath a husband. Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. But as then he, that was born according to the flesh, persecuted him that was after the spirit, so also is it now. But what said the Scripture? Cast out the bond-woman and her son; for the son of the bond-woman shall not be heir with the son of the free-woman. So then, brethren, we are not children of the bond-woman, but of the free; by the freedom wherewith Christ has made us free.
Reflexion on the Epistle
We also have too long been grovelling in the goods of this world; we have been slaves to sin; and the more the chains of our bondage weighed upon us, the more we talked of our being free. Now is the favourable time; now are the days of salvation: we have obeyed the Church’s call, and have entered into the practice and spirit of Lent. Sin seems to us, now, to be the heaviest of yokes; the flesh, a dangerous burden; the world, a merciless tyrant. We begin to breathe the fresh air of holy liberty, and the hope of our speedy deliverance fills us with transports of joy. Let us, with all possible affection, thank our divine Liberator, who delivers us from the bondage of Agar, emancipates us from the law of fear, and making us His new people, opens to us the gates of the heavenly Jerusalem, at the price of His Blood.
Were said to me: we shall go into the house of the Lord. Let peace be in thy strength, and abundance in thy towers.
They that trust in the Lord, shall be as Mount Sion; he shall not be moved for ever that dwells in Jerusalem. Mountains are round about it; so the Lord is round about His people from henceforth now and for ever.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to John. Chap. VI
At that time: Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is that of Tiberias; and a great multitude followed Him, because they saw the miracles which He did on them that were diseased. Jesus therefore went up into a mountain, and there He sat with His disciples. Now the Pasch, the festival day of the Jews, was near at hand. When Jesus therefore had lifted up His eyes, and seen that a very great multitude had come to Him, He said to Philip: Whence shall we buy bread that these may eat? And this He said to try him, for He himself knew what He would do. Philip answered Him: Two hundred penny-worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one may take a little. One of His disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to Him: There is a boy here that has five barley loaves, and two fishes; but what are these among so many? Then Jesus said: Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. The men therefore sat down, in number about five thousand. And Jesus took the loaves; and when He had given thanks, He distributed to them that were sat down. In like manner also of the fishes, as much as they would; and when they were filled, He said to His disciples: Gather up the fragments that remain, lest they be lost. They gathered up therefore, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above to them that had eaten. Now those men, when they had seen what a miracle Jesus had done, said: This is of a truth the prophet that is to come into the world. Jesus therefore, when He knew that they would come to take Him by force and make Him king, fled again into the mountain Himself alone.
Reflexion on the Gospel
These men, whom Jesus has been feeding by a miracle of love and power, are resolved to make Him their King. They have no hesitation in proclaiming Him worthy to reign over them; for where can they find one worthier? What, then, shall we Christians do, who know the goodness and the power of Jesus incomparably better than these poor Jews? We must beseech Him to reign over us, from this day forward. We have just been reading in the Epistle, that it is He who has made us free, by delivering us from our enemies. O glorious liberty! But the only way to maintain it, is to live under His Law. Jesus is not a tyrant, as are the world and the flesh; His rule is sweet and peaceful, and we are His children rather than His servants. In the court of such a King “to serve is to reign”! What, then, have we to do with our old slavery? If some of its chains be still upon us, let us lose no time, let us break them, for the Pasch is near at hand; the great feast-day begins to dawn. Onwards, then, courageously to the end of our journey! Jesus will refresh us; He will make us sit down as He did the men of the Gospel; and the Bread He has in store for us will make us forget all our past fatigues.
Grant, we beseech Thee, O merciful God, that we may sincerely respect, and receive with faith Thy holy mysteries, with which Thou daily feedest us. Amen
I give you our watchword for 2021 by way of an invitation. I invite you to fight, to combat.
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I am the good Shepherd. The good Shepherd giveth His life for His sheep.
Jesus said to Thomas: “Because you have seen Me, Thomas, you have believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and have believed.”
“A little while and you shall see Me no longer.ˮ