Sunday, 15 March 2015

Fouth Sunday of Lent

Today, Mothering Sunday is also known as 'Laetare Sunday' after  the first word of the Latin Introit Antiphon in the Mass of the day.

"Rejoice, O Jerusalem: and come together all you that love her: rejoice with joy, you that have been in sorrow: that you may exult, and be filled from the breasts of your consolation." (Isaiah 66:10)

Traditionally it was an occasion when the rigours and restrictions of the Lenten fast were eased,  family reunions were held, visits to the parish mother church took place, and the faithful celebrated their origins and the people who mothered them materially, spiritually.

Although this is not the proper readings for the day, this brief appreciative halt brings to mind this passage, exhorting disciples to remain steadfast in faith, following their Lord's example.

"Let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrew 12:1b-2)

Joy and fulfilment are born of gratitude. It's not the other way around. Gratitude requires effort to express appreciation for gifts received. That's why the church whenever it celebrates the Lord's Supper prefaces its great eucharistic ( = thanksgiving) prayer.

Lift up your hearts / We lift them up unto the Lord
Let us give thanks unto the Lord our God / It is meet and right so to do.

We leave the feast with joy, because we have expressed gratitude in this way, something learned from the great Hebrew tradition of prayer.

"It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto thy name, O Most High: To show forth thy loving kindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness in the night season." (Psalm 92:1-2)

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is gracious; for his mercy endures forever" (Psalm 118:1)

It's there in the teaching of Jesus. When one of ten healed lepers returned to give thanks, and in many other situations he is seen giving thanks to God. The very word blessing means the action of giving thanks for something or someone.
"Jesus asked, “Weren’t all ten healed? Where are the other nine? Didn’t anyone else return and give praise to God except this outsider?” (Luke 17:17-18)

St Paul continued to share with his gentile readers all he had received from Hebrew spiritual tradition, and from Jesus.

"Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." (Col 3:17)

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! (Phil 4:4)

Lent is a time to take our spiritual life more seriously, a time of repentance for sin and pardon in spite of sorrow for being sinned against, but returning to the fullness of right relationship with God is above all, cause for great joy, and true happiness.

"Those who sow in tears will sing when they reap." (Psalm 126:5b)

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