Homily for Sunday March 11 , 2018
God’s Everlasting Love
Laetare Sunday 2018, March 11, 2018
A Reflection of the Readings for the Fourth Sunday of Lent
Second Chronicles 36:14-16, 19-23;1 Samuel 16:1,6-7,10-13, Psalm 137;Psalm 22:1-6,
Ephesians 5:8-14 , Ephesians 2:4-10; John 3:14-21, John 9:1-41
By Rev. Bob Johnnene OFM
Mission Sts. Sergius & Bacchus/ Order Franciscans of Mercy
www.missionstsergius.org                        www.orderfranciscansofmercy.org
This Sunday, the fourth Sunday of Lent, is called Laetare Sunday which means Rejoice. It is called this because the Introit or Entrance Antiphon if from the book of Isaiah 66:10-11 which begins "Laetare, Jerusalem" ("Rejoice, O Jerusalem").
Because the midpoint of Lent is the Thursday of the third week of Lent, Laetare Sunday has traditionally been viewed as a day of celebration, on which the austerity of Lent is briefly lessened. The passage from Isaiah continues, "rejoice with joy, you that have been in sorrow," and on Laetare Sunday, the purple vestments and altar cloths of Lent are set aside, and rose ones are used instead.
Laetare Sunday is also known as Rose Sunday or Refreshment Sunday, and it has a counterpart in Advent: the Third Sunday of Advent which is called Gaudete Sunday, when purple vestments are exchanged for rose ones. The reason for both days is to provide us encouragement as we progress toward the end of each respective penitential season.  The reason for encouragement is very clear, it is because of the suffering and crucifixion, death and the resurrection of Christ that we can gain everlasting life and the reason we have forgiveness of our sins.  The messages found in all the readings for the fourth Sunday in Lent say one thing, God’s unending love for ALL His children. The reading in the second book of Chronicles tells of how the Leaders of the people and especially  the Priests who are sworn to teach the word of God and give testimony to the truth of God’s teachings had so corrupted the teachings and the temple with infidelity upon infidelity, copying all the shameful practices of the nations and defiling the Temple of God that God finally ordered the destruction of Jerusalem because the priests and church leaders had refused to heed the warnings given them by the prophets.
The story says that the prophets were scoffed and despised. There certainly seems to be a correlation to what is happening in the world today to what God despised then. Preachers and teachers and world leaders and those of the major corporations are ignoring the primary message found throughout scripture and affirmed in the other two readings of today, God is above all, merciful and forgiving. Wake up from your sleep, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you. Ephesians 5:14  In the Gospel we are encouraged by the teaching “Everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life” “God did not send His son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. Whoever who believes in Him will not be condemned.”
When Jesus was asked what is important to gain everlasting life his response was “Love one another as I have loved you”.  In John’s Gospel chapter 3 we read “God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost but may have eternal lie” Christ loved us so much that he was willing to give himself over to torture and the ignominious death on the cross just so we could have everlasting life.
Christ came into this world to bring the light of the truth to all people as the gospel of John chapter 9 tells us “I must carry out the work of the one who sent me; the night will soon be here when no one can work. As long as I am in the world I am the light of the world”. We must remember what Christ said in John 8:31-32 "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." The truth is what is proclaimed in scripture and the commandments, nowhere in there can you find anything about what some religious leaders profess. Man made rules and regulations imposed by the Princes and priests of the temple are what God called an abomination and eventually led to the destruction of Jerusalem.  Just as Jerusalem was destroyed, so it rose again; Just as Christ died on the cross and was buried, He rose again. So too, will the One Holy Catholic Apostolic Church which has been broken apart, it also will come together through the healing grace of God, the inspiration and enlightenment of the Holy Spirit and the faith of all who believe in God‘s words not those which have evolved over time by mere men. The mercy, love, and compassion of Almighty God is unending and extends to all who believe in Almighty God The Father, The Son Jesus Christ our redeemer and savior, and The Holy Spirit the enlightener. To believe is to trust totally in Him, to honor Him with prayer, good works of charity, compassion, forgiveness for the wrongs others committed against us and to not live to seek wealth, power and fame but to live to show our love of God and our belief in Christ’s teachings by having compassion and love for all of God’s children regardless of their race, nationality, social or economic or marital status or their sexual orientation. ALL people are God’s children and we need to extend to them the same love God extended to us by sending his only begotten son to free us from the bondage of sin. AMEN