The Fourth Sunday of Lent
30 March 2014
“Rejoice, O Jerusalem: and come together all you that love her: rejoice with joy, you that have been in sorrow:” Is. 66:10-11 (The Introit )
Today is called Laetare Sunday after the first word of the Introit. It is the midpoint of Lent and the Church wants us to consider the joy that will be ours with the Easter Mysteries. This can be seen in the readings the Church has selected for the Epistle (Galatians 4:22-31) and the Gospel (John 6:1-15). In the Epistle to the Galatians, St. Paul reminds the Jewish converts in Galatia that they have been freed from the bondage of the Old Law by Jesus Christ in the New Covenant made with the sacrifice of His own Body and Blood on Mt. Calvary. This New Covenant of God’s love is foreshadowed in today’s gospel about Jesus’ miracle of The Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes. As Jesus feeds “five thousand men not counting the women and children,” (Mt. 14:21) so He will feed all His followers in the Holy Eucharist with His Body and Blood: the Sacrament “of the New and Eternal Testament: the mystery of faith which shall be shed for you and for many unto the remission of sins.” (Consecration of the Blood at Mass) While we rejoice at this midpoint of our Lenten time of penance, we should rejoice even more because we are children of God who have been called to eternal life in the New Jerusalem of heaven.
Children of Slavery or Children of Promise
In today’s Epistle to the Galatians, St. Paul resolves the controversy raging among the Jews about the need for circumcision in obedience to the Mosaic Law before becoming Christians. St. Paul shows the Jews their error by using an example from Hebrew history, specifically the story of Abraham’s two sons, Ishmael by the slave girl Agar, and the other son, Isaac, by his wife Sara: “And the son of the slave-girl was born according to the flesh, but the son of free woman in virtue of the promise. This is said by way of allegory. For these are two covenants; one indeed from Mount Sinai, bringing forth children unto bondage, which is Agar... But that Jerusalem which is above is free, which is our mother...Now we brethren, are the children of promise as Isaac was.” Gal. 4:23-28 Dom Prosper Gueranger summarizes St. Paul’s allegorical interpretation in The Liturgical Year, Vol. 5: “Let us rejoice! We are children, not of Sinai, but of Jerusalem. Our mother, the holy Church, is not a bond-woman, but free; and it is unto freedom that she has brought us up. Israel served God in fear; his heart was ever tending to idolatry, and could be kept to duty only by the heavy yoke of chastisement. More happy than he, we serve God through love; our yoke is sweet, and our burden is light! (cf. Mt. 11:30) We are not citizens of the earth; we are but pilgrims passing through it to our true country, the Jerusalem which is above. We leave the earthly Jerusalem to the Jew, who mind only terrestrial things, is disappointed with Jesus, and is plotting how to crucify Him. We also have too long been grovelling in the goods of this world; we have been slaves of sin; and the more the chains of our bondage weighed upon us, the more we talked of our being free. Now is the favourable time; now are the days of salvation: we have obeyed the Church’s call, and have entered into the practice and spirit of Lent. Sin seems to us, now, to be the heaviest of yokes; the flesh, a dangerous burden; the world, a merciless tyrant. We begin to breathe the fresh air of holy liberty, and the hope of our speedy deliverance fills us with transports of joy. Let us, with all possible affection, thank our divine Liberator, who delivers us from the bondage of Agar, emancipated us from the law of fear, and making us His new people, opens to us the gates of the heavenly Jerusalem, at the price of His Blood.” p. 320-21.
Eucharistic Banquet in Heaven
In today’s gospel, Jesus anticipates the heavenly banquet by providing an earthly one with His miracle of “The Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes.” Jesus has compassion on the many people who had been following Him for days and were hungry. He performs one of his greatest miracles in feeding this multitude, “five thousand men not counting the women and children,” Mt. 14:21 St. John in his gospel account of this miracle places it and The Miracle of Walking on the Sea just before His promise of the Eucharist by which He will give His own flesh to eat: “I am the living bread that has come down from heaven. If anyone eat of this bread he shall live forever and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” Jn. 6:51-52 By the miracle of “The Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes,” Jesus shows that He has the power over nature to make bread into His own body. Those who partake of His Body and Blood will be guaranteed eternal life in the Heavenly Jerusalem. This is His New Covenant with His people. Sadly, many who heard Jesus did not believe Him. The day before when he had multiplied the loaves and fishes they had wanted to make Him their King: “This indeed is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” Jn. 6:14 St. John Chrysostom commenting on this scene said: “When He gave them bread and satisfied their hunger, they called Him a prophet and tried to make Him their king; but when He instructed them concerning the spiritual food, about eternal life; when He spoke to them of the resurrection and lifted up their hopes, when more than ever they should have admired Him, then they murmured against Him and left Him.” (The Preacher’s Encyclopaedia: Lent and Eastertide, p. 183)
Eternal Life in Christ
Today’s Liturgy reminds us that we should be filled with joy as we have reached the midpoint of our Lenten journey to the Easter Mysteries. We are the children of the promise from Christ, our Saviour; we are not the children of the bond woman and the old law which kept the children in slavery because it could not free them from sin. We have been freed by Christ and have been fed with His own Body and Blood which has been wonderfully multiplied and is our pledge of eternal life. As Jesus fed the multitude, so He will reward all with eternal life who follow Him and eat His Body and drink His Blood: “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has life everlasting and I will raise him up on the last day.” Jn. 6:55
The Church Fills us with joy today.
In the Allocution on the first anniversary of his pontificate (at the beginning of World War II), Pope Pius XII said: “In the midst of penance and fasting the Church becomes a herald of Joy. In spite of present worries and preoccupations and the threats of even worse things to come we must seek the joy of the soul. ‘Beloved sons; if the Church whose wise teaching joins both austerity and sweetness in one perfect harmony, today bids us rejoice, we who are sunk in sadness, and if We, in a moment of intimate contact with you, do not hesitate to repeat that counsel, it is not that we have forgotten your worries. This ‘rejoice’ which comes from the mouth of the Church, our Mother, teaches us to find the serene joy of the soul even in the sufferings of nature and bitterness of heart.’”
First Friday: 4 March 2014
Now is a good time to continue (or begin) the devotion to the “Nine First Fridays” of the Month. The Sacred Heart of Jesus promised to St. Margaret Mary: "I promise thee in the excessive mercy of My Heart that My all-powerful love will grant to all those who communicate on the First Friday in nine consecutive months, the grace of final penitence; they shall not die in My disgrace nor without receiving the Sacraments; My Divine heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment."
Mission of the Immaculate Mediatrix
(MIM) 5 April 2014
On the First Saturday of every month, we will have our monthly formation program for those who interested in affiliating themselves with the Marian Spirituality of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate. The day begins at 9:30 AM and goes until 4 PM and includes two conferences, Holy Mass, adoration and the rosary. (see flyer on door)
This spirituality is Marian and Franciscan and includes the teachings of St. Francis of Assisi, St. Maximilian Kolbe and other Franciscan saints. “The fundamental aim of the MIM is the fulfilment of God’s plan for the salvation and sanctification of all souls through the maternal mediation of the Immaculate to the supreme glory of the Most Holy Trinity.” (Article 2: Statute)
It is most important at this time in our world to come together and learn about Our Lady and her messages especially Fatima. Pope John Paul II: On November 9, 1976 said in the USA as Karol Cardinal Wojtyla: “We are now standing in face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has gone through. I do not think that the wide circles of American society or the wide circles of the Christian community realize this fully. We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the Anti-Church, of the Gospel versus the anti-gospel.”
We hope that all of you will consider joining the MIM and work for your own sanctification and the sanctification of so many souls who are in danger of being lost for all eternity in hell as Our Lady said at Fatima.
The First Saturday: 5 April 2014
Our Lady told Sr. Lucia in 1925 “…I promise to assist at the hour of death, with all the graces necessary for salvation, all those who, on the first Saturday of five consecutive months go to confession and receive Holy Communion, recite five decades of the Rosary and keep me company for a quarter of an hour while meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary, with the intention of making reparation to me." If only we would do what Our Lady asks, we would be assured of eternal salvation. Our Lady promises us all the graces necessary for our salvation if we keep The Five First Saturdays!