#laetare, 4th Sunday of Lent, March 31, 2019

Ang TOTOong Balita ngayong 4th Sunday of Lent #laetare by Fr. Toto Cerada, SDB

Fourth Sunday of Lent – Year C

Reading 1  JOS 5:9A, 10-12

The LORD said to Joshua,
“Today I have removed the reproach of Egypt from you.”

While the Israelites were encamped at Gilgal on the plains of Jericho,
they celebrated the Passover
on the evening of the fourteenth of the month.
On the day after the Passover,
they ate of the produce of the land
in the form of unleavened cakes and parched grain.
On that same day after the Passover,
on which they ate of the produce of the land, the manna ceased.
No longer was there manna for the Israelites,
who that year ate of the yield of the land of Canaan.

Responsorial Psalm  PS 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7.

R. (9a)  Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall be ever in my mouth.
Let my soul glory in the LORD;
the lowly will hear me and be glad.
R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
Glorify the LORD with me,
let us together extol his name.
I sought the LORD, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
Look to him that you may be radiant with joy,
and your faces may not blush with shame.
When the poor one called out, the LORD heard,
 and from all his distress he saved him.
R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

Reading 22  COR 5:17-21

Brothers and sisters:
Whoever is in Christ is a new creation:
the old things have passed away;
behold, new things have come.
And all this is from God,
who has reconciled us to himself through Christ
and given us the ministry of reconciliation,
namely, God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ,
not counting their trespasses against them
and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
So we are ambassadors for Christ,
as if God were appealing through us.
We implore you on behalf of Christ,
be reconciled to God.
For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin,
so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.

Verse Before The Gospel  LK 15:18

I will get up and go to my Father and shall say to him:
Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.

Gospel  LK 15:1-3, 11-32

Tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus,
but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying,
“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
So to them Jesus addressed this parable:
“A man had two sons, and the younger son said to his father,
‘Father give me the share of your estate that should come to me.’
 
So the father divided the property between them.
After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings
and set off to a distant country
where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation.
When he had freely spent everything,
a severe famine struck that country,
and he found himself in dire need.
So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens
who sent him to his farm to tend the swine.
And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed,
but nobody gave him any.
Coming to his senses he thought,
‘How many of my father’s hired workers
have more than enough food to eat,
but here am I, dying from hunger.
I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him,
“Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.
I no longer deserve to be called your son;
treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.”’
So he got up and went back to his father.
While he was still a long way off,
his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion.
He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.
His son said to him,
‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you;
I no longer deserve to be called your son.’
But his father ordered his servants,
‘Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him;
put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.
Take the fattened calf and slaughter it.
Then let us celebrate with a feast,
because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again;
he was lost, and has been found.’
Then the celebration began.
Now the older son had been out in the field
and, on his way back, as he neared the house,
he heard the sound of music and dancing.
He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean.
The servant said to him,
‘Your brother has returned
and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf
because he has him back safe and sound.’
He became angry,
and when he refused to enter the house,
his father came out and pleaded with him.
He said to his father in reply,
‘Look, all these years I served you
and not once did I disobey your orders;
yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends.
But when your son returns
who swallowed up your property with prostitutes,
for him you slaughter the fattened calf.’
He said to him,
‘My son, you are here with me always;
everything I have is yours.
But now we must celebrate and rejoice,
because your brother was dead and has come to life again;
he was lost and has been found.’”

A Father Who Never Abandons His Son

prodigal fatherThe Parable of the Prodigal Son is one of the most moving stories of Jesus and has been regarded as the all-time favorite. Why? I guess one of the reasons is the story of the Prodigal Son is also our story.

Let us look at some details of the parable especially the father and the younger son. The son demands his inheritance while his father is still alive and well. That’s a no-no! It simply means the son wishes his father’s death, and wills that he is no longer part of the family [see Sir 33:20-24]. The offended father has the authority to discipline the ungrateful son, but he does not! Because of his tremendous love for the son, he allows the son to get what he wants. Like the son, we often offend the Lord, wishing to be away from Him. We choose “the inheritance”, the good things God created like wealth, power, and pleasure above and over Him. We keep abusing His love and kindness, knowing that He is a Good Father.

However, the younger son’s action has a terrible consequence. The farther he is away from his father, the more pitiful his life becomes. The inheritance without the true owner is nothing but a passing shadow. The Jewish young man loses everything, and even becomes the caretaker of pigs, the very animal Jews hate! He becomes so low to the point of eating what the pigs eat. Like the younger son, without God, we become miserable. Yes, we may become richer, more powerful and famous, but we have lost our souls. We never become truly happy because these pleasurable things without God are mere addiction.

The son comes to his sense when he remembers his father and his life with him. Even the father is far away, it does not mean he is idle. He is drawing his lost son through good memories they share. No matter far we are from God, He is constantly pulling us back to Him through His mysterious ways. Yet, it remains our choice to heed the voice of our conscience but ignore it and plunge ourselves further into sin.

The parable also speaks about the father who is patiently waiting, looking forward to the day that his son returns home. The moment he sees his son from distance, without a second thought, he runs toward his son and embraces him and kisses him. The son never thinks that he deserves to be his son once more, and just wants to be treated like a servant. But, mercy precisely is to receive something we do not deserve. The father receives back his young man as his child.

Allow me to close this simple reflection with a story. In 1988, a terrible earthquake hit Armenia. In just four minutes, buildings crumbled, and thousands died. A man immediately ran to a school where his son studied. He had promised to his son that he would be there to fetch him. He saw that the school was now piles of rubbles. He rushed to the site where the class used to be. He started digging barehandedly. Some people tried to help him but stopped afterward. Some people discouraged him, saying, “It is useless. They are dead!” He refused to give up, and continue digging for hours. Then after more than 30 hours of searching, he heard a small voice from the rubble. He shouted, “Arman!” and he heard a response, “Father!” His boy was still alive, and together with him were other pupils. That day, the man had saved 14 children who got trapped. Arman told his friends, “I told you, my father will come no matter what!”

The parable of the Prodigal Son is so beautiful because it does not only reflect who we are but also reveals who our God is. He is a merciful Father who refuses to give up hope on us, however desperate we have become.

Deacon Valentinus Bayuhadi Ruseno
with
Harry Setianto Sunaryo SJ., Xenon Oble and Marvin Obedo

Sometimes pain & suffering can bring us back 2 our senses & appreciate the blessings we take 4 granted. See pain as God’s voice calling us bak 2 Him. Listen. Repent.

Jesus appreciated d scribe’s affirmation abt d commandment of love. Yet d scribe is stil far frm God’s Kingdom. 4 love is not wat we know but wat we do. It is not an intention. Love is an action. Show love in concrete. Do it.

Jesus worked to restore d unity bet. man & God, a unity disrupted & destroyed by sin. D devil, on d other hand, promoted chaos & division. To w/c side do u belong? Work 4 Jesus, not for d demon.

Prayer is a relationshp bet. God & man. Lyk any relationshp, d mor constant & frequent d connection in prayer, d mor this relationship grows in intimacy. Ask mor than material favors. Pray 2 lav God mor. Seek not jz things but relational gains.

Fight d devil’s temptation strategies: 1. He attacks us wher he knows we are weak. Pray & be strong. 2. He uses d scriptures. Know & liv God’s words. 3. He looks 4 another “time”. Be vigilant & prepared.

D Pharisees & d scribes seem 2 feel uncomfortable & unhapi wen others are hapi & enjoying. They think happiness is theirs alone. Jesus brings joy 2 evri1. Share others’ joy & pain. But dnt be a source of their suffering.

Wen Jesus is d reason 4 everything we do, losing our lives 4 him is not a loss but a gain. Fear no pain or suffering. Going thru hell is nothing as long as we reach heaven.

Jesus doesn’t want us to be “show offs” or perform righteous deeds to gain the praises of men. God will repay us for our “secret” good deeds. Do good. But be mindful why u do it. Please God rather than men & attain heaven.

Wat does salt hav 2 do w/ peace? The salt preserves & gives taste. Here, 4 Jesus it means something that can help have peaceful & lasting relationships: Sacrifice Attention Love/laughter Time. Live a SALTy lifestyle.

Children are Jesus’ favorites bcoz in their weakness & helplessness, they seek others’ help. Their greatness lies in the acceptance of their nothingness. Let our weaknesses bring us to our knees. We are nobody. To God be the glory.

These words of Jesus are difficult but not impossible to do, hard but w/ heroic effort, demanding but mending. To love is human. To love one’s enemies is divine. Where human effort alone may fail, let God’s grace fulfill.

Peter, who hardly knew wat 2 say bcoz of fear, saw beauty in Jesus’ transfiguration. Life shows us terrifying experiences & yet we cn see some beauty in thm. Transfiguration & disfiguration challenge us 2 stay positive bcoz Jesus is w/ us.

Peter thinks of glory, kingship & a leader w/o undergoing pain & suffering. Jesus is the suffering servant who brings glory in spite & thru pain. Fear no pain. Suffering & death are nothing when we gain heaven.

Forgetfulness is costly. Hv u experienced missing a flyt, leaving somethng at home, not attending someone’s special event bcoz u forgot? It costs time, effort, money & relationships. Protect urself frm danger & sin. Remember God’s promis of heven.

Jesus wud not hear d question of his disciples where 2 get enough bread in a deserted place 4 many ppol. Do not be stifled or paralyzed by lack of resources. W/ faith in Jesus, u can even have a surplus. He is our sure “plus”.

Businesses, backed up by all sorts of claims, promote a “germ-free” society, w/ clean food, soaps & sanitizers. Promote a personal “sin-free”, guilt-free lifestyle. Stay clean & pure in thots, words & deeds. Stay undefiled.

Peter’s admission of his sinfulness didnt stop Jesus frm choosing him & making him d leader of his church. Jesus sees beyond our imprfections & givs us our mission. Nvr fear abt ur past or future failure. Trust His trust in u.

Jesus, w/ his disciples rode a boat 2 go 2 some place 2 rest. Upon ariving d shore, he saw pipol there ahead of them. He forgot his rest & began 2 teach. Hv a selfless love. Be a restless lover.

Jesus, w/ his disciples rode a boat 2 go 2 some place 2 rest. Upon ariving d shore, he saw pipol there ahead of them. He forgot his rest & began 2 teach. Hv a selfless love. Be a restless lover.

At times, our knowledge abt pipol hinders us or stands as obstacle to let them prove themselves or their worth. For Jesus, there is something mysterious in each person. Allow that mystery to come out. Give pipol a chance to “shine”

Rejection spares no one. But wat’s important is hw we face it. Jesus, amidst threat 2 his life, simply “passed through d midst” of d crowd & “went away”. Stay strong & focused on ur mission. Reject rejection.

Jesus was accused of doing things thru d devil’s power. Ppol may call us names may be bcoz they dnt knw us, dnt understand us, try 2 discredit or destroy our credibility. Know urself. Prove pipol wrong by ur good deeds & actions.

Jesus is accustomed to doing religious acts. How do u spend ur “sabbath”? Regularly read the Bible; “believe what u read; teach what u biliv; live wht u teach.” 

It is truly disheartening when those closest to u, or those whom u presume know u personally, are d ones who fail 2 understand or support u. Stand firm. U work 4 God, not 4 them.

It is said that “Necessity is the mother of inventions.” D 4 men, not limited by d situation, w/ faith, acted creatively. Faith is powerful. Dnt put limit 2 it. Be creative, inventive & resourceful.

When fame, wealth or power come 2 one’s head, they can destroy his life. Jesus did not come 4 fame but 2 save us frm shame. He did not come 2 establish a name, but 2 establish relationships. Avoid d glitter of fame. Embrace his life.

Was this Jesus’ occasional or regular home visit? For “Simon’s mother-in-law lay sick w/ a fever.” They told him about her & he cured her. Take time to visit or call someone today. Show them ur concern & care.

At this point in his life, Jesus is a man of success bcoz he accomplished wat prophet Isaiah said abt him. Wat abt us? Wat hv we accomplished so far? Have we brought glad tidings 2 d poor? Be a glad tiding to others.

Jesus fed them w/ “multiplied” bread. He walked on d water & quieted a stormy sea. Still his disciples’ hearts were hardened. Unbelievable? Aren’t we like them sometimes? Yet God is patient w/ us all the time. What a great God we have!

Christ is our light. He came to conquer death, the consequence of the darkness of sin. Let Jesus overshadow whatever is still dark in you. Live in God’s grace, in faith, love & good deeds. Start anew.

Amidst our pressing concerns & activities, we may become so busy that we often lose sight of d divine in d mundane things. Look around & see Jesus in pipol, places & events and declare in faith: I have found d Messiah. Or simply allow him 2 find u

In an outburst of praise & thankfulness, Mary recalled & enumerated d good things d Lord has done 2 Wat’s in d name of Jesus? It means goodness, triumph over evil, sin & death. It brngs salvation & givs freedom 2 b chldren of God. That’s y d children of d world hate him. Dnt fear 2 carry his name. Fear that by it ul be condemned.her & 2 His pipol. Like Mary, count & appreciate ur blessings. Thankfulness is a secret to happiness. Be grateful. Be joyful.

Wat’s in d name of Jesus? It means goodness, triumph over evil, sin & death. It brngs salvation & givs freedom 2 b chldren of God. That’s y d children of d world hate him. Dnt fear 2 carry his name. Fear that by it ul be condemned.

Wen in crisis or difficulties, some ppol resort 2 stress eating, go into sports or other activities. Like Joseph, w/ confidence in God, we can sleep on our troubles. God is in control

Today’s readings teach us how 2 rejoice: 1st Rdg & Resp. Ps: -God is in & among u/ur midst 2nd Rdg: -by kindness & thanksgiving Gospel: -generously share wat u hav -be fair & just -dnt take advantage of pipol -be contented -be humble like John Rejoice!

John’s greatness is the greatness of being Jesus’ precursor & the greatness of courage. Introduce Jesus to others like John. Fearlessly denounce injustice, immorality & sins on any given chance.

Imagine losing some pipol u love for years. And for God, imagine losing us 4 eternity. That’s why He looks 4 us & rejoices in finding us. Help those who seem lost in life. Bring them bak 2 God.

Life cn intoxicate us w/ material or spiritual desires tht either we possess or possess us. Stay sober & moderate. Vice & sin destroy. Discipline urself b4 it’s too late

Leaving the boat & their father, the disciples are entering into a new way of living & relationship. Don’t be intimidated by anything new when Jesus is with you. He is the new “new” that calls you to a better “new” you.

Persecutions, like problems in life, may be viewed as difficulties to run away from. But they may also be taken as opportunities to grow, to shine & to be better. Never fear pain & sufferings. They are chances for us to gain the “championship ring”.

The end-time that Jesus predicted may frighten us. But there is one consolation. It’s not going to take place at once. That means we have time to prepare, to repent, to love. Let not what’s scary make you worry.

Generosity is not about wealth or poverty. It is the attitude of giving not what we have but what and who we are. You are generous for who you are, not how much you give.

Jesus knew what wud happen to Jerusalem & its pipol & the causes of d bad events to come. Stay close to Jesus. Do what he commands u to do. Sufferings & pains wud come, but obeying him makes us safe & sound.

What the wicked servant said to the king was used against him. The king condemned him for his own words. Be careful of ur action & words. They may be used against you. Say & do only what builds others up & makes a better you.

To pray persistently like the widow in the parable, wanting swift justice to be served, demands a strong faith. Whatever it is u are asking from God, just dnt giv up praying. His timing is perfect. Just wait in faith.

Pipol are always running in pursuit of many things, even in matters of faith: in haste of finding God, His presence or His answer 2 their prayers. Believe & stay calm. Live & promote the gospel values of life & love. There God is found.

Gratitude is an attitude. It does not come frm one’s nationality, religion, profession or education. It is an expression of appreciation 4 a favor or blessing received or evn anticipated. Say thank you 2day. Evriday.

Jesus wants us to watch out & be careful. He knows that committing sin is inevitable. But to cause others to sin is 4 him more woeful & terrible. Bring others to God & not to the devil.

How many lost souls hav we found & brought back 2 God? Have we exerted efforts, like a shepherd, 2 lead them back 2 Him? Is someone in ur family or circle of friends in need of guidance & direction? Dnt be indifferent. Do something.

Fr. Ramon T. Salibay, O.P.

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