Sunday 25 March 2001

L O’Donnell 

- Liturgical Resources and Homily -

N.B. This is the 4th Sunday of Lent.  Therefore as it is a Sunday dedicated to rejoicing the Organ may be used, not only to sustain the voices, but also in its own way (i.e. preludes, postludes, and  ‘twideley bits’. 


Is God like your father? 

“Rejoice, Jerusalem! Be glad for her, you who love her; rejoice with her, you who mourned for her.”  Amidst this season of Lent we are faced with the Sunday commonly known by most Catholics as be joyful or rejoice Sunday.  But why, amidst this supposed season of penitence and preparation for Christ’s death, which is only two weeks away, do we come across a Sunday dedicated to being joyful.  I think we need to look at the Liturgical Readings for today and then we will, I am sure, be able to correspond the “rejoice” factor. 

The Gospel is that story many can relate to, the parable of the Prodigal Son.  It opens with the scribes and Pharisees complaining that Jesus reaches out to sinners and even dines with them.  Rebuking them if we look back to the beginning of Luke’s Gospel, when a similar occurrence happens, Jesus says: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have not come to call the righteous but the sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:31-32).  So that gives us a starting point when looking at the Gospel today.  

Quite inappropriate, I know as this is Mothering Sunday for the British Isles, Jesus uses two sons (no daughters).  The younger is rather wasteful with his Father’s (not mother’s) goods and represents sinners and humankind.  Later on, repentant in his desolate state, receives compassion and celebration by his readily forgiving father who represents God.  The elder son, who continued to work hard for his father, ever obedient to his father’s will; becomes angry at the good reception, which his “prodigal” brother has received.  And he represents the Pharisee. 

Now, rejoicing does come into that.  The elder brother, as are all of us are called to rejoice just like God our Father rejoices at the return of a repentant sinner.  So, appropriately we read this story of the Prodigal Son, and quite effectively relate it to the rejoice factor which we celebrate on this Fourth Sunday in Lent. 

As we know, the Father in that story represents compassion and love for his son.  Our Heavenly Father is likewise the same.  In a book I’ve been reading by one very famous priest and author, there is a story which links in rather well the representation of God in the Gospel Reading today. 

A very moving story but one with a very impressive message, which the Psalm picks up today: “Glorify the Lord with me.  Together let us praise his name.  I sought the Lord and he answered me; from all my terrors he set me free” (Psalm 33).  So surely that is the reason for rejoicing on this Laetare Sunday.

I’m sure we have all seen Rembrandts fantastic painting depicting the story of the Prodigal Son, and a caption which could go with it, in conjunction with the story I’ve just told you is: “I must leave this place and go to my Father.”  And this is something we must all do.  Literally – not unless we have to! Hypothetically – now!  And we can do this by making use of Lenten Penance and turning away from sin – a phrase we have been continually hearing since the beginning of Lent.  “I must leave this place and go to my Father.”  And this why, at Paul so rightly states in the Second Reading: “…we are ambassadors for Christ; it is as though God were appealing through us, and the appeal that we make in Christ’s name is: be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:19-20).  Joshua uses that same theme when talking the Promised Land.

So who do the First and Second Readings complete our theme of rejoicing?  Well, in this First Reading we can share the Israelites sense of fulfilment and happiness at having reached the Promised Land.  Paul tells of another cause for rejoicing – that we are a new creation in Christ, we ourselves and our community and Church.  And as I said, we can also rejoice in the fact that we have been reconciled to God in Christ, and that Paul accepted that call to be an ambassador of the truth that in Christ all are reconciled with God and with one another.

I think today’s Opening Prayer communicates the subject matter of today’s rejoicing.  “…we are joyful in your Word, you Son Jesus Christ, who reconciles us to you.  Let us hasten toward Easter with the eagerness of faith and love.”  Amen! 

Introduction to Mass / Penitential Rite

Today is Laetare Sunday, the Sunday in Lent when we are called to rejoice.  Being reconciled is a sure aspect to rejoicing and so we continue our Lenten observance by kneeling and praying.  I confess… 

Prayer of the Faithful

Fourth Sunday of Lent, C 

Celebrant: God has forgiven each of us – we therefore rejoice in his love and celebrate our reconciliation, and we bring our prayers before the God our Heavenly Father.

Announcer: That the leaders of the Church along with World Leaders may keep the Christian Values and respect them in the work.  We pray to the Lord: Lord hear us.

That places suffering from floods, droughts and the farming disaster receive a fair share of produce and survival essentials.  We pray to the Lord: Lord hear us. 

That people alienated from our society may be welcomed back in our lives by the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  We pray to the Lord: Lord hear us. 

That Mothers will receive respect from their children.  We pray to the Lord: Lord hear us. 

That the sick may receive nourishment from healthcare and medical treatment.  We pray to the Lord: Lord hear us. 

That God may bring the dead to glory with his Son and the Holy Spirit and reign eternally with God in heaven.  We pray to the Lord: Lord hear us. 

May stood in sorrow and watched her Son die, but experienced rejoicing and joy three days later: let us ask Mary, through her Maternal intercession, that our sorrows may be lightened and our joy be complete.  Hail Mary…  

In silence we pray. 

Celebrant: Father, you gave us Jesus to reconcile us to you.  Grant these our prayers and listen to our needs that we make in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

(Comments to Luke at