Sunday, March 10, 2013

Laetare Sunday - Fourth Sunday in Lent

Twice per year the vestments are rose or pink - and Laetare Sunday, the Fourth Sunday in Lent, is one of those dates in the liturgical year (the other is Gaudete Sunday, the Third Sunday in Advent).  It is called this because the Introit begins with:
Lætáre, Ierúsalem: et convéntum fácite, omnes qui dilígitis eam: gaudéte cum lætítia, qui in tristítia fuístis: ut exsultétis, et satiémini ab ubéribus consolatiónis vestræ.

Rejoice, O Jerusalem, and come together, all you who love her: rejoice with joy, you who have been in sorrow: that you may exult, and be filled from the breasts of your consolation.
It is a day of rejoicing, as Lent will soon be drawing to a conclusion in Passion Week, culminating in the resurrection of our Lord on Easter Sunday.

The sermon our priest today shared was truly amazing and I wish to share what I took from it here.  As most who follow here already know, I typically participate in the Extraordinary Rite of the Mass (Traditional Latin Mass) and the readings this week, especially the Gospel really hit home with another family member who has been absent from Mass for many years and came back today.  Now with that introduction one might think I was referring to the Novus Ordo, or Ordinary Rite - for the Gospel there was that of the Prodigal Son!  Well, that TOO is quite an appropriate Gospel for this day of return by our family member!  However, in the Extraordinary Rite the Gospel was John 6:1-15 - the feeding of the 5000.  Several times this week, this family member was meditating on the feeding of the 5000, he had no idea of what the Gospel would be at Mass!  He was having thoughts of how this feeding can be related to his own life and even that of his company.  He shared a time when he checked his bank account and only had $8.00 in it... somehow after deciding to pay the bills he HAD to pay that week, he went back to the account and found it had over $100 in it - AFTER paying all the bills!  Of course he relates that to the twelve baskets full of remnants after Jesus fed the 5000 with only 5 barley loaves and 2 fish.  He had other comparisons too - but again, that he was led to meditate on this passage this week and then find it at Mass moved him to tears on this, his prodigal return.

As I sat there listening to the sermon myself, I too was quite moved and heard an analogy I've not heard before.  The priest began with the discussion of the feeding of the 5000, but then said that this was just a prelude to what followed.  The people, after seeing this miracle sought to make Him king by force, but what did Jesus do?  He turned and fled to the mountains, alone.  

Some stay away from Mass because they claim they "get nothing from it."  To which Fr. Terra said, "If they believe that, then they are just not paying attention!"  The second part of John 6 puts forth the Eucharistic treatise that unless we eat the Flesh and drink the Blood of Jesus Christ, we have "no life" in us.  This teaching was difficult for the disciples who grumbled and said, "this is a hard teaching, who can take it?"  Over that teaching, many turned and walked with the Lord no longer.  He repeated the command over and over again - how many times?  The answer is NINE TIMES!   Obviously He meant what He was saying!  We are given the re-presentation of Jesus' Sacrifice on the Cross at EVERY Mass.  

Fr. Terra made it clear, it is not a representation, like a statue or a picture represents our Lord or a Saint, for those are just made of plaster, paint or some other substance.  The Eucharist, on the other hand is a re-presentation of the Cross.  It can be compared to if I were to leave the room, then come back in again, I am present again.  Now the Sacrifice is not offered again - it is made present again.  The Mystery of Faith is that through the Mass THE Sacrifice of Jesus defies space and time and becomes REALLY PRESENT on the altar.  No other church can offer you this!  No other church teaches this!  How can one be in the REAL PRESENCE of Jesus Christ and claim, "I get nothing from it?"  

Then came the comparison I had not heard before. . .  in the first part of John 6, after Jesus had fed the 5000 they had their physical needs met - and they sought to make Him king - and He fled to the mountains, alone.  Too often we see, especially in non-Catholic churches, the attempt to fulfill the physical needs of those there, or the need to be entertained.  They attempt to make Him a worldly king again - and He flees from them.  Where God TRULY is, in His REAL PRESENCE is in the valid sacrifice of the Mass or Divine Liturgy, and NO WHERE ELSE!  Those who seek fulfillment outside the Mass are only filling their personal and physical desires - and not the spiritual.  Seek Him where He IS, and not in the entertainment factor of the preacher or the music or the fancy auditoriums which represent more of a stage show than the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Now again, if you really feel you "get nothing from the Mass," then "you're not paying attention!"  There is SO MUCH going on!  As the family member who just returned stated - if you pick up the missal and read even ONE PRAYER and meditate on it - you have come away from the Mass with more than you came in with - not to mention that THE Sacrifice of the Mass is THE Real Presence of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ - which is something you not only will not find, but cannot find at any Protestant gathering. 

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