The Fourth Sunday of Lent
March 31, 2019 Cycle C

by Rev. Jose Maria de Sousa Alvim Calado Cortes, F.S.C.B.
Chaplain, Saint John Paul II National Shrine, Washington, D.C.

Home Page
Sunday Reading Meditations

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Today is Laetare Sunday, a day to rejoice and be joyful. As the entrance antiphon says: “Rejoice, Jerusalem, and all who love her. Be joyful, all who were in mourning; exult and be satisfied at her consoling breasts” (cf. Is 66:10‒11). We rejoice and are glad because “the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Cor 5:17).

Today’s readings proclaim that Easter is approaching. We rejoice because the Israelites arrived in the Promised Land and the prodigal son returned to the house of the Father. Christ’s death and resurrection will bring us to the land our heart desires and to house of the Father, where we belong.

We rejoice that in Christ everything becomes new! As Saint Paul says in today’s second reading: “Whoever is in Christ is a new creation” (2 Cor 5:17). Christ’s presence makes all things new. As the Book of Revelation says: “Behold, I make all things new” (Rev 21:5). “An event so unforeseen still happens here and now. In
our broken history there’s a new reality.
Christ’s cross is the new reality that makes all things new. Today’s first reading tells us that the first thing the Israelites did when they reached the Promised Land was to celebrate the Passover: “While the Israelites were encamped at Gilgal on the plains of Jericho, they celebrated the Passover” (Jos 5:10). Passover is a memorial to God’s marvelous works for his people. The memory of the liberation from Egypt and the power of God’s action brought them to possess the Holy Land. The Passover prefigures the passion, death and resurrection of Christ. The Eucharist is the memorial of Christ’s Passover, which unites us to God himself. As Pope Francis says: “The Eucharist introduces us into real communion with Jesus and his mystery.

We see people and things in a new way when we realize that they come from the Father’s hands. In order to gain this new awareness, we need to participate in Jesus’ cross. We need to die to what is old and be reborn for the novelty of the life of grace. Suffering is an essential prerequisite for joy. Saint Peter says: “. . .rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice exultantly” (1 Pt 4:13). Our participation in Christ’s cross breaks the shell that conceals the fullness of life. Emmanuele Mounier wrote: “It is necessary to suffer so that the truth not be crystallized in doctrine but be born of the flesh.” We enter the Promised Land and return to the Father’s house through the cross. It is necessary to drown the old man in the waters of Baptism in order to arise as new creatures, in the life of the resurrection.

We make our personal contribution to the renewal of all things when we connect people and things with God in our hearts. As Bob Dylan’s famous song Forever Young says: “May you build a ladder to the stars / And climb on every rung. / May you stay / May you stay forever young.”

Today’s psalm says: “Look to him that you may be radiant with joy” (Ps 34:5). Let us pray that our Lenten season may be a time to contemplate God’s glory. As we approach Easter, let us ask for the grace of the renewal of our lives in Christ.  Amen.