Lectio Divina: Laetare Sunday, Year A

Lætere Sunday at Blackfen


Paris, March 28, 2014 (Zenit.org) Monsignor Francesco Follo

1) The Joy

The title and the introduction of the Exhortation of Pope Francis “Evangelii gaudium “: “The joy of the gospel” are the best commentaries on this Sunday’s Liturgy,” Laetare Sunday”.

The Holy Father in this policy document says: “The joy of the Gospel fills the heart and the lifetime of those who meet with Jesus. Those who let themselves be saved by Him are freed from sin, from sorrow, from inner emptiness and from isolation. With Jesus Christ joy is always born and reborn. ”

In the time of bitterness, weariness and intellectual approach, abstract to the life of faith, the Pope in the “Evangelii gaudium “forcefully poses the joy of the Gospel as the completion of the message of Christ who said “I have told you these things so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”

Today we are invited to, “this precious joy upon which all virtue is founded” (Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy , Paradise 24 , 90-91 ) because Easter is approaching and the liturgy creates a dawn that announces the Easter sun and invites us to a moment of serene contentment in the midst of the austerity of Lent.

The Collect of this Sunday’s Mass reads: “Reconcile the human race to yourself in a wonderful way, grant, we pray, that with prompt devotion and eager faith the Christian people may hasten toward the solemn celebrations to come.” The fatigue of the journey is the price for the joy of the goal achieved. This reminds us once again that the purpose of Lent is to prepare for Easter, for the Easter world that will bloom from the Cross on which the eternal Love is sacrificed as a counterweight to all our denials of love.

Joy begins from the small and big human pleasures that everyone experiences from childhood, enjoying the love of parents, friends, brothers and sisters in humanity and faith. This joy, however, is filled with Christ. It comes from Jesus the Redeemer, who brings the glad good news that God is always with us.

Here are some examples to understand this. The first “epiphany” of joy is the Annunciation, which makes Our Lady say: “My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (Luke 1:46-47). The second is when the greeting of Mary, who carries the Savior in her womb, reaches Elisabeth: John the Baptist leaps for joy in her womb (Luke 1:44). At the birth of Christ, the angel announces to the shepherds “a great joy” (Luke 2:10). When the wise men saw again the star leading them to Christ “they felt a great joy” (Matthew 2:10). Zacchaeus received Jesus into her house “full of joy” (Luke 19:6). On the day of the messianic entrance into Jerusalem “the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the miracles they had seen” (Luke 19:37). And these are only some of the episodes of joy over the presence of Christ and the waiting for Him.

The prophetic announcements of the Savior are full of joyful words and jolts of happiness. “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light, to those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone. You have multiplied the joy, you have increased the happiness. They rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as when they divide the prey … A child is born, unto us a son is given. Upon his shoulder dominion rests and He is called: Wonderful Counselor , Mighty God , Everlasting Father , Prince of Peace; great will be his government and peace will have no end.” (Isaiah 9:1-6 , cf. 4 Mt 0.14 to 15 and the Christmas liturgy ) However, this joy was already preceded by the joy of the patriarchs. And Jesus will say, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day and he saw it and was glad” (John 8:56).

As I already mentioned, there is the joy of the Incarnation and of Christmas. Joy announced by the angel (Luke 2:10), discovered by shepherds (Luke 2, 20) and by the Magi (Matthew 2:10), manifested by the aged Simeon and the prophetess Anna (Lk 2.25 to 38). The joy of Christmas comes from contemplating the beginning of our wonderful destiny of redeemed and our return to paradise. “In this day has been planted on the ground the condition of the citizens of heaven, the angels come into communion with men, who entertain themselves without fear with the angels. This is because God came down to earth and man has ascended to heaven. There is no more separation between heaven and earth, between angels and humans “(St. John Chrysostom). The Byzantine liturgy exclaims: “O world, sing and dance at the news (of the virgin birth of Mary), with the angels and shepherds glorify Him who wanted to show Himself as a child, God before the ages.” Joy of love, joy of union, high tenderness of the superabundant and bright happiness!

Finally, there is the joy of Easter which we are preparing for. It touches the highest pinnacle and finally explodes in the resurrection, indispensable complement to the death of the Lord and for our salvation. The Gospels gush of the beatific joy that passes from the angels to Mary Magdalene, the Apostles and the disciples of Emmaus. On the bewildered faith of all his followers, Jesus sheds the light of his glorious life, enlightens them and welcomes them. “And they departed quickly from the sepulcher with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples” (Mt 28, 8). “The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord” (Jn 20:20).

All this is summed up beautifully by St. Thomas Aquinas, who says: “Joy is the enjoyment of a sure good,” good that faith allows to see and enjoy.

2) The Bread of Truth is the Bread of Joy

It is said that faith is blind, but that is an incorrect saying. Faith allows seeing what the eyes of the body and simple human intelligence cannot see. Faith is to see what God sees “For the man sees the appearance but the Lord looks at the heart “(First Reading).

Healing or not, it is only faith that allows me to “see” how God sees from its infinite wisdom. As it is written “In your light we see light “(Ps 35, 10).

“Walk as children of light, and now the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth. Try to figure out what pleases the Lord. Have no fellowship with works of darkness, which bear no fruit, but rather reprove them.” (Second Reading)

During this Lent, a time of conversion to the light that comes from God, let’s meditate on the fact that our life is a breath which ends in a moment, and ask the Lord to increases in us the light of faith not to discuss who to blame for the ills of the world, but to make the Gospel and Jesus Christ the rule of our lives. We are dead even before we actually die if we do not believe in the resurrection from the dead and in the One who guides us toward Easter.

Let us identify with the man born blind who, gone out from from blindness and the interrogation, enters disappointed and confused in the world of those who think that they see. With him let’s go back to meet Jesus who asks him if he believes in him, if he sees Him as the true man and the true God, the Savior of the world.

I can feel his thrill in recognizing that voice and in fixing his gaze on those eyes full of light. I kneel with him in front of Jesus in the Eucharist. I do not think because I have been miraculously cured … I believe that my life is a miracle, even when it is shrouded in darkness. I believe that God loves me and is near me. I listen to his voice in the Bible, I do what He says through the Church, and I go where He sends me. I go to confession to be washed by his innocent blood and heal from my guilty and by my inability to see as He sees everything I am, what I could be and what happens to me .



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