So he rides into Jerusalem triumphant, though he has not yet conquered death. He comes now not so much to manifest his glory and power as conquerors do, but rather to show his humility. He’s riding upon a donkey – a slow, lowly beast, not a brilliant white charger. He teaches us that we can trust Him, that we can lay down our defenses and let Him in. He is simple, He is humble, He is approachable. We do not have to live in fear.
The common interpretation says that this Gospel today (4th Sunday after Lent [Laetare Sunday] – John 6:1-15) is about the mercy of God, His benevolence towards man. But let’s take it in context – yesterday we had the readings about the chaste Susanna (Dan 13:1-9, 15-17, 19-30, 33-62) and the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11). Susanna was a holy woman falsely accused, and God, through the prophet Daniel, came to her defense. The woman caught in adultery was genuinely repentent. Yes, God is merciful … to the just and to the repentant. But what about today? Even atheists and pagans know about the story of the loaves and the fishes. But did you ever, why five loaves? Why two fishes?
Today we are confronted with a great mystery of our faith. The Lord reveals to his disciples that He will suffer, that He will die, and that He will rise again on the third day [Luke 18: 31-43]. And we are told they could not understand this saying. We can understand, perhaps, how his rising from the dead might be difficult for them to grasp. Such a thing had only happened a couple of times in their recorded history. But that He would suffer and the He would die – why should this be difficult for them to understand?
Septuagesima is a time for us to gradually work our way into Lent so that we can be prepared and make the most of that holy season. And at times, Lent can be really grueling – we’re hungry, we’re tired, we spend a lot of time thinking about our sins and what we deserve for our sins. But let us keep our eye on the goal – what is encouraging? What makes all this worth it?
It’s the whole reason why Christ became Man and suffered and died for us. For all eternity, He has had one goal in mind – to unite Himself to you forever. It’s been an eternity, and yet finally, here you are. Our Lord’s heart yearns to be united to ours, He burns with the desire of being loved by us. When our Lord says that “With desire I have desired to eat this pasch with you”, St. Lawrence Justinian interprets this to mean our Lord’s desire to unite Himself to us in Holy Communion. Our Lord will not be denied. He will go to great lengths to be with us. He will find a way to come to those who love Him.
The reason for penance, the reason for prayer, the reason for all that our holy religion gives us, in the end, is about Heaven and Hell – eternal bliss, or eternal torment. This sermon is taken from writings in the book titled ‘The End of the Present World and the Mysteries of the Future Life’ by Fr. Charles Arminjon.
Lent is not just a time to do something extra and then going back to the way we were when Lent is over. It’s a time to take a huge step forward in our preparation for heaven. In Lent we are called to add another degree of perfection, to make an improvement that will last. And the season of septuagesima is a prelude to Lent, kind of a “pre-penance”, to get used to the idea that we are going to make some real sacrifices, to mentally prepare for making that change.
The Roman Catechism proposes for a sermon topic today the Passion of our Lord and Savior. The catechism proposes some wonderful material for the topic, which composes much of the sermon. [Read more…]
A sermon following the sermon from St. Alphonsus for the fourth Sunday in Lent, “On the tender compassion Jesus Christ entertains towards sinners”. [Read more…]
Lent, among other things, is a time of conversion. There are extraordinary graces available during the seasons. Lent is a time for each of us to convert as well. It’s not just a time when we ramp up our penances. It’s a season to turn to the Lord. We are going to talk about what that means. [Read more…]
Lent prepares us for Easter – but why do we prepare for Lent with Septuagesima?