Path of Reflection through Scripture
Fourth Week of Lent
Gospel for Sunday, March 18, 2012: John 3:14-21
Read it here
As Christians, Lent is a season for intentional reflection, repentance, and renewal. The penitential observances and atmosphere of this season are meant to remind us that as sinful human beings, we are ultimately dependent on God’s mercy and grace. The increased emphasis on prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and other works are designed to “clear away the clutter,” so to speak, so we may focus more intently on improving our relationship with God and responding in our daily lives to the grace he provides.
However, lest we become discouraged or too intent on “redeeming ourselves," we also need to recall that as Christians we are a people of the Resurrection! The Fourth Sunday of Lent, traditionally referred to as Laetare (Rejoice) Sunday, offers us a mid-Lent pause or break from the season’s austerity. We are reminded that Christ not only died for our sins, but rose from the dead, ascended to the Father in heaven, and sent the Holy Spirit to assist us in following him—the entire Paschal Mystery.
On Laetare Sunday, also known as “Rose” or “Refreshment” Sunday, the violet color of vestments and altar cloths are replaced with rose. Churches stripped of flowers for Lent may have them this Sunday. The Introit for Mass beckons: “Rejoice,
Many phrases from today’s readings offer comforting words recalling God’s immense love for us and the reason for our rejoicing: “he had compassion on his people… God, who is rich in mercy… by grace you have been saved…we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared… for God so loved the world… God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him… whoever lives the truth comes to the light…”
At the beginning of today’s Gospel, Jesus points to Moses as his precursor, promising eternal life to all who look upon him for salvation. Here, he recalls an Old Testament passage (Numbers 21:4-9), in which Moses mounts a bronze serpent on a pole for the people (who have been bitten by venomous snakes) to look upon and be healed. Likewise, for our sake, God made him (Jesus, God made Man) to be sin who did not know sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Christ (cf. 2Corinthians 5:21).
We look to the Cross, where our sin is nailed in Christ, and beyond it to the Resurrection, where we have been raised with Christ from the dead to live in the Eternal Light of God. Now, that is something to rejoice about!!!