Pastoral Message – March 10, 2024

Pastoral Message – March 10, 2024

This weekend we have another one of those Sundays that has a special Latin nickname: it’s “Laetare Sunday.” By now you might be able to guess that the name comes from the first word of the Latin version of the Entrance Antiphon: “Rejoice, Jerusalem, and all who love her. Be joyful, all who were in mourning…” (Is. 66:10)

Now, can you really command someone to rejoice? It seems to me that joy has to come from within us and can’t be imposed from outside of us. Sure enough, as I read the rest of Isaiah 66 I saw that the text is not a command. It is an exhortation, accompanied by numerous reasons to rejoice: the Lord will bless his people with prosperity; the Lord will comfort us; the Lord will gather all the nations and they will see his glory; the Lord will make new heavens and a new earth; all shall come to worship before him.

Pretty good list of reasons, isn’t it? It’s kind of like the response I give to people who get caught up too much in the “gloom and doom” aspects of the Book of Revelation. I say, “Spoiler Alert: God wins!” Of course, I’m not trying to minimize or deny the texts that deal with the punishment of evil; I’m just trying to emphasize the fact that God is in charge, he calls us to union with him, and union with God will bring us joy.

The whole Lenten business of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving (with the various forms these things can take) is intended to bring us into union with the Lord. In other words, the goal of Lent is joy. The season is more than halfway over; let’s stick with it and remember we are all called to repentance and conversion, and through this spiritual growth we are called to share in the glory of salvation. The reward is more than worth whatever it takes!

Fr. Philip

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