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Lent: March 2nd

Fourth Sunday of Lent


March 02, 2008 (Readings on USCCB website)


Father of peace, we are joyful in your Word, your Son Jesus Christ, who reconciles us to you. Let us hasten to our Easter with the eagerness of faith and love. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


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Old Calendar: Fourth Sunday of Lent; Laetare Sunday

"Rejoice, Jerusalem! Be glad for her, you who love her; rejoice with her, you who mourned for her, and you will find contentment at her consoling breasts." This Sunday is known as Laetare Sunday and is a Sunday of joy. Lent is half over, and Easter is enticingly near.

This Sunday was formerly called "Laetare Sunday" since its mood and theme was one of hope and rejoicing that Easter was near. In the reformed calendar this Sunday is not different from the other Sundays of Lent even though the entrance antiphon for the day still begins with the Latin word "laetare" and the vestments worn by the celebrant are rose-colored, not violet. The day is important because it is the day of the second scrutiny in preparation for the baptism of adults at the Easter Vigil.

The Station at Rome is in the basilica of Holy Cross in Jerusalem, one of the seven principal churches of the holy city. It was built in the fourth century, by the emperor Constantine. The emperor's mother, St. Helen, enriched it with most precious relics, and wished to make it the Jerusalem of Rome.

Sunday Readings
The first reading, first Book of Samuel 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a,l contains, at best, oblique references to the other two readings. The anointing of David as king may be a reference to the anointing in the responsorial psalm both of which may refer to Christ the good shepherd. The figure of David may also be a prefigurement of the anointing to Messiahship of Jesus for his mission. Whatever the reason for its selection for this day, the theme of the liturgy is better reflected in the other two readings for they present implications and applications of the baptism of the believer.

The reading from the Letter of St. Paul to the Ephesians 5:8-14 is particularly significant because throughout the season of Lent the community has been urged to cast aside deeds of darkness and walk in the brilliance of the light of Christ. In this reading, for the first time during Lent, the darkness-light theme which will be so predominant at Easter is enunciated. The believer must leave the deeds of darkness and live according to the justice and truth of God through the light of Christ. The selection of this reading for the Sunday liturgy of the second scrutiny emphasizes clearly that the preparation of a person coming to the faith is one of moral formation as well as in-formation about the faith. The preparation of adults to be baptized has more to do with choices and deeds than it does with dogmatic teaching.

The gospel reading, John 9:1-41, dominates the liturgy by the length of the reading and its significance. The miracle story of healing the man born blind is amplified in typical Johannine style by references and explanations about light, water, and Jesus' origins. The reference to Christ as the light of the world and to the symbolism of water as new birth is clear, for in his death and resurrection the sightless see eternal truths, and the "seeing" become blind because their former sight according to the vision of the world is now changed to the vision of Christ.

The discussion about Jesus' origins is a typical Johannine approach: if we know his parents, why can't we keep him under control? The point of the author is that if we ask this question we do not know his true origins at all for he is from above and to follow him where he goes requires a new birth for the believer.

The theme of light pervades the liturgy of the word; a light that is not a possession to be contained, but a gift which clarifies and illuminates the things of this world so that we do not rely upon human powers for our salvation, but acknowledge the divine origins of our Savior. — A Celebrants Guide to the New Sacramentary - A Cycle by Kevin W. Irwin