Monthly Archives: March 2015
Abraham Lincoln was asked during the civil war, ‘’if the war is over, and when the south has been subdued and conquered, and has come back into the union, how are you going to treat these rebellious southerners, what are you going to do to them?’’ And he answered: ‘’ I am going to treat them as if they had never been away.’’ That is exactly the attitude of our God when we repent of our sins; he treats us as if we have never committed any sins.
Today is the fourth Sunday of lent and it is called ‘’Laetare Sunday’’ a Latin word which means ‘’Rejoice’’. Hence the antiphon of today says, ‘’Rejoice, Jerusalem; be glad for her all you who love her….’’ On Laetare Sunday the Lenten discipline is relaxed. The organ and other instruments may be used, and there may be flowers on the altar; the priest may wear rose colored vestments. On a day like this, the Pope will bless a golden rose. He will explain the meaning: The rose is beautiful, but it has thorns. The beauty of redemption will not come without the thorns and pain of the cross.
So, we are rejoicing because of God’s infinite love and mercy to us. In spite of our sins, he loves us and forgives us. ‘’For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in him may not die but may have eternal life.’’ (Jn 3:16). Today we rejoice because our catechumens are getting closer to their baptism and full communion in the church. We rejoice because God never seems to learn his lesson, despite our stubbornness and sins, he keeps loving us, forgiving our sins, and will never give up on us. He never learned his lesson in creation: He created everything good and gave to our first parents, and they paid him with disobedience. He did not learn his lesson when he delivered the people of Israel from slavery in Egypt and did many great things for them, and they pay him back with rebellion. Even today, we who are the new Israel, we are rebellious and sinful, yet he loves us and grants us forgiveness. We have abandon God for the sake of secularism and civilization and we are turning things upside down. As a result, we are committing all kinds of atrocities such as abortion, same sex marriage, divorce, euthanasia, violence, suicide, murder, and all kinds of injustices and hatred to one another. Yet God’s love is boundless and he is ready to forgive us. Indeed, his mercy and love is infinite. So we have every reason to rejoice today. Do not just be happy but repent and receive his love and mercy.
The first reading is woeful and the gospel is up lifting. The first reading shows the anger and punishment of God while the gospel shows his love and mercy. We are people of the gospel, people of the New Testament and our God is merciful. Therefore, we must be happy, grateful to him, and take advantage of this opportunity and repent of our sins and receive his forgiveness. His forgiveness is freely given-you do not have to earn it. God loves and forgives us- Do you forgive others? God’s love is infinite- do you have limit to your love for others? Love begets love-do you receive love and not give others love?
FOURTH SUNDAY OF LENT YEAR B
Today we read about Jesus chasing people away from the temple for doing business there. The question is if Jesus did that, why do we have festivals or funds raisings in the church? Yes we do have fund raising in the church, but the difference is that those people at the time of Jesus were doing it for personal gains and not for the temple, while ours is done with the intention of raising funds for the church and not for any personal interest. And no one is cheating or stealing from anyone as it was during the time of Jesus.
The first commandment says we should not have any other god except the one and true God. And the second says we should not call his name in vain. The third one is on keeping the Sabbath holy. Then from the fourth to the tenth is about the respect and love of others, beginning with our parents. These commandments instruct us to respect the person of God, his name, his temple, and the people he created. In Jewish tradition, if you respect a person, you will also respect his/her name and everything that is related to that person, for example, spouse, parents, children, house, etc.
That is what these commandments are asking us to do to our God-to love and respect his person and everything that is related to him. The temple is a place where we worship God. It is often called his house or his dwelling place. And all those who come in there to worship him are his children, so, they should be loved and respected because they are related to him. No one would be happy if anything related to him/her is abused by someone else. We like to be loved and respected and this love to be extended to every one of our relations and property.
Now we can see why Jesus was angry and drove people out of the temple. The people turn the temple into a business place where they were cheating and stealing from people who came to worship God for their personal interest. They disrespected God, his temple, and the people of God.
Jesus is still angry with us because we too are doing the same things those people did during his time on earth. Many of us do not love and respect God, his temple, and his people. When we refuse to obey his commandments, we are disrespecting him. If you refuse to come to church, or come late to church for no just reason, or come to church and you are rushing to get out for no good reason, or if you come and you do not pay attention, or you make noise to distract people praying in his temple, you are disrespecting God. When you do not dress decently, or eat and drink too much, or you do not take care of yourself or abuse your body, you are disrespecting the temple of God. If you do not recognize the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist/church, you are disrespecting God. If you help someone and you expect something in return, you are doing business not kindness. When you do contract or job for the church and you charge for excessive pay, you are cheating God. If you refuse to contribute for development and maintenance of church facilities and ministries, you are stealing from God and his temple. When you do not have time to pray or volunteer to participate in the work and ministries of the church, you mean to God. When you do not respect your neighbor, you are disrespecting God.
We need to clean all of these bad attitudes in our live so that our bodies/ temples of God will be purified and be dwelling places for him. The season of lent is good time to clean up this mess in our lives. Pray for forgiveness and ask for the grace to stay clean and holy for God to remain in your life; fast from sin and learn to love other people.
THIRD SUNDAY OF LENT YEAR B