Occasion: Lætare Sunday (Fourth Sunday of Lent)

You can find the full readings here. This lectio is taken from the Gospel, Luke 15:1-3, 11-32.

Reading

Tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus,
but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying,
“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
So to them Jesus addressed this parable:
“A man had two sons, and the younger son said to his father,
‘Father give me the share of your estate that should come to me.’

So the father divided the property between them.
After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings
and set off to a distant country
where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation.
When he had freely spent everything,
a severe famine struck that country,
and he found himself in dire need.
So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens
who sent him to his farm to tend the swine.
And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed,
but nobody gave him any.
Coming to his senses he thought,
‘How many of my father’s hired workers
have more than enough food to eat,
but here am I, dying from hunger.
I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him,
“Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.
I no longer deserve to be called your son;
treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.”’
So he got up and went back to his father.
While he was still a long way off,
his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion.
He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.
His son said to him,
‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you;
I no longer deserve to be called your son.’
But his father ordered his servants,
‘Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him;
put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.
Take the fattened calf and slaughter it.
Then let us celebrate with a feast,
because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again;
he was lost, and has been found.’
Then the celebration began.
Now the older son had been out in the field
and, on his way back, as he neared the house,
he heard the sound of music and dancing.
He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean.
The servant said to him,
‘Your brother has returned
and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf
because he has him back safe and sound.’
He became angry,
and when he refused to enter the house,
his father came out and pleaded with him.
He said to his father in reply,
‘Look, all these years I served you
and not once did I disobey your orders;
yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends.
But when your son returns
who swallowed up your property with prostitutes,
for him you slaughter the fattened calf.’
He said to him,
‘My son, you are here with me always;
everything I have is yours.
But now we must celebrate and rejoice,
because your brother was dead and has come to life again;
he was lost and has been found.’”

Stand-out words and phrases

Welcomed sinners, filled with compassion, lost and found

Meditation

We are halfway through the penitential season of Lent, but every Mass is still a celebration. This Sunday, as we celebrate Lætare Sunday, we are reminded of the joy that penitence can lead to. Lent is a time of great spiritual exercise and to take stock of our lives.

The younger son in the parable was facing the consequences of his choices. He took stock of his life, and he accepted responsibility for his actions. This is when things started to pick up for him; with acceptance.

With acceptance of his wrongs, followed by repentance, the prodigal son was greeted with joy by his father. Our Heavenly Father greets us in the same way when we repent, and He lifts the weight off our souls like the rags lifted off the prodigal son, and He robes us in peace.

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Return to me with your whole heart

Ash Wednesday, March 1, 2017

You can find the full readings here. This Lectio is based on the Old Testament reading, Joel 2:12-18.

Reading

Even now, says the LORD,
return to me with your whole heart,
with fasting, and weeping, and mourning;
Rend your hearts, not your garments,
and return to the LORD, your God.
For gracious and merciful is he,
slow to anger, rich in kindness,
and relenting in punishment.
Perhaps he will again relent
and leave behind him a blessing,
Offerings and libations
for the LORD, your God.

Blow the trumpet in Zion!
proclaim a fast,
call an assembly;
Gather the people,
notify the congregation;
Assemble the elders,
gather the children
and the infants at the breast;
Let the bridegroom quit his room
and the bride her chamber.
Between the porch and the altar
let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep,
And say, “Spare, O LORD, your people,
and make not your heritage a reproach,
with the nations ruling over them!
Why should they say among the peoples,
‘Where is their God?'”

Then the LORD was stirred to concern for his land
and took pity on his people.

Standout words:

return to me with your whole heart, rend your hearts, let the priests … weep, took pity

Reflection

The first step of recovery is recognizing we need help. As we enter this period of Lent, the Church calls us to see ourselves as we are. It’s a difficult proposition. Our lives are busy. Our attention is drawn elsewhere – anywhere but inwardly. Our thoughts of ourselves are not introspective and lack depth. Like our thoughts of others and of God, our thoughts of ourselves are distorted.

“God you know me. You know me better than I know myself. Show me who I really am, and who you’ve called me to be.” This small prayer is one I use often. I know that I can’t see myself clearly, but God can. And when the Holy Spirit searches me and shows me those parts of me that I’m withholding from God’s grace, I can then repent of my hardheartedness.

“God resists the proud,” the book of James tells us. How can I be proud when I’m laid bare before the loving look of Jesus? Jesus, help us return to you. Seek those hidden parts, and let the light of your love bring them to your Light.