Sunday, March 31, 2019
In the Roman Catholic calendar, the fourth Sunday of Lent is celebrated as Laetare Sunday. "Rejoice" is the word of the day. It is curious why the idea of rejoicing is celebrated by the Church halfway through our observance of Lent. At morning Mass today, Fr. Jim wore the famous (or infamous) rose-colored vestment which I personally find to be beautiful and cheerful. Not many would agree as I smile writing this comment. But maybe the idea of a bright color breaking the dreary color purple mostly worn during this penitential season forces us to think differently. Maybe there is something here. The Gospel reading of the age-old story of the Prodigal Son adds a seriousness to the message. Mercy...Forgiveness...Rejoice. Maybe that is the message of why we are exhorted to rejoice!
A heart that rejoices does not mean not experiencing sadness. Or not feeling discouraged. Or not feeling abandoned. These are all part and parcel of the human condition. To rejoice means to live in constant hope that despite all that we endure in this side of heaven will end -yes, even our troubles. If joy is temporary, so is sadness. "All things pass" says Saint Teresa of Avila. To rejoice means to know the love of God and to experience that love in the everyday and in the ordinary events of life. To rejoice means that I am a sinner and precisely because I am a sinner that I have a claim in this love of the Father. To rejoice means to understand that I have been given this divine life at Baptism, and to live this life, I have been given all the graces I need through the gifts of the Holy Spirit to bring this life to fruition. To rejoice means to remember that Jesus promised me a mansion in heaven, and that He will return to bring me back with Him, to inherit the kingdom He has won for us. To rejoice means to not allow the trials of this human life to oppress me into submission, and discouragement and despair, holding on in faith that these must happen because of my own bad choices, or sins, or simply because I am a limited being living in a limited world. To rejoice means to live in the supernatural, by an act of the will, instead of being moved by fleeting feelings and emotions. To rejoice means to be thankful for my life even though its circumstances may not be ideal or pleasant. It also means to look intently at the blessings God has given us of friends, loved ones, health, and so many more.
Our definition of joy and happiness may differ. God has his own definition and it is shown in the life of His Son Our Lord Jesus Christ and to find and understand that life, we must study it.
Saint Teresa has a very famous bookmark:
"Let nothing disturb you,
Nothing frighten you.
All things are passing.
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
Nothing is wanting to him who possesses God.
God alone suffices."