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4th Sunday of Lent

4th Sunday of Lent – C19

 

Dear friends in Christ,

 

Fourth Sunday of Lent is traditionally called “Laetare Sunday” or “Rejoice Sunday.” This is so because the Liturgy of this day tells about God’s great desire to forgive our sins.

One of St. Luke’s favorite themes is forgiveness. Indeed, he dedicated the entire chapter 15 of his Gospel for it. Of all the parables of Jesus, the one about the Prodigal Son is the most unusual, so unusual that we feel it is too good to be true. But, it is exactly how Jesus wants to tells us who His Father is and how He acts whenever we repent our sins and come to Him for forgiveness.

The fact that the father in the parable insisted on an elaborate banquet to celebrate the return of his lost child should encourage us to prepare for the sacrament of penance with confidence in God’s mercy. Here, Jesus means to teach that forgiveness of sins is God’s free gift, but it requires from the sinner a simple desire to seek it.

The Prodigal Son’s repentance is our model. He showed us the way to God the Father and told us what to do: after being totally lost in sin, he came to his senses and decided to abandon his sinful way of living and to return to his father. He prepared to confess his sins and to make an act of contrition as he said, “I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you…”

Jesus wants to say that, as far as His Father is concerned, the only thing that matters to Him is that we recognize our sins and decide to come home alive. Thus St. Paul in today’s second reading wrote, “We implore you on behalf of Christ be reconciled to God.” The forgiveness of God is total and He eagerly wishes to celebrate our repentance. In many ways, the Prodigal Son lives in us and God waits for us to come home, too, in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

This year, Lenten Penance Service at OLPH Church will be on Monday of the Holy Week, April 15, at 9am and 7pm. You are all cordially invited.

Fr. Joe