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Sunday, March 31, 2019
Fourth Sunday of Lent
Joshua, Chapter 9, Verse 22-24
22 Joshua summoned the Gibeonites and said to them, “Why did you deceive us and say, ‘We live far off from you’?—You live among us! 23 Now are you accursed: every one of you shall always be a slave, hewers of wood and drawers of water, for the house of my God.” 24 They answered Joshua, “Your servants were fully informed of how the LORD, your God, commanded Moses his servant that you be given the entire land and that all its inhabitants be destroyed before you. Since, therefore, at your advance, we were in great fear for our lives, we acted as we did.
If only our nation returned to wisdom and prayed and sought the Lord’s instruction before we entered into any treaties with other nations; sadly, we too are like Joshua.
I prayed, and prudence was given me; I pleaded, and the spirit of wisdom came to me. I preferred her to scepter and throne, and deemed riches nothing in comparison with her, nor did I liken any priceless gem to her; because all gold, in view of her, is a little sand, and before her, silver is to be accounted mire. Beyond health and comeliness, I loved her, and I chose to have her rather than the light, because the splendor of her never yields to sleep. Yet all good things together came to me in her company, and countless riches at her hands. (Wis. 7:7-11)
Worrying keeps you trapped. Thinking sets you free.
When Israel negotiated with the Gibeonites and ignored God’s order to destroy the city, they allowed compromise to jeopardize their mission. While negotiation is not wrong in itself, leaders must never negotiate their convictions, direct orders, or core values. When we start negotiating these, we compromise our mission.
Fourth Sunday of Lent
BY the Introit of the Mass the Church reminds us of the joys of heaven, to encourage us to persevering zeal in penance and fasting, and to patience under persecution, crosses, and sorrows.
The Introit of the Mass begins with the word Laetare (rejoice),
from which the Sunday derives its name: Rejoice, O Jerusalem, and come together, all you that love her. Rejoice with joy, you that have been in sorrow, that you may exult and be filled from the breasts of your consolation. I was glad at the things that were said unto me: we shall go into the house of the Lord.
Prayer. Grant, we beseech Thee, O Almighty God, that we, who are afflicted for our deeds as we deserve, may be relieved by the comfort of Thy grace.
EPISTLE. Gal. iv. 23-31.
Brethren: It is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bond-woman, and the other by a free-woman: but he who was of the bond-woman was born according to the flesh: but he of the free-woman was by promise: which things are said by an allegory: for these are the two testaments. The one from Mount Sina engendering unto bondage: which is Agar: for Sina is a mountain in Arabia, which hath affinity to that Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. But that Jerusalem which is above is free, which is our mother. For it is written: Rejoice thou barren, that bearest not: break forth and cry, thou that travailest not; for many are the children of the desolate, more than of her that hath a husband. Now, we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. But as then he, that was born according to the flesh, persecuted him that was after the spirit: so also, it is now. But what saith the Scripture?
Cast out the bond-woman and her son; for the son of the bond-woman shall not be heir with the son of the free-woman. So then, brethren, we are not the children of the bond-woman, but of the free: by the freedom wherewith Christ hath made us free.
Explanation. The Jews, typified by Agar, served God like servants, from fear of punishment and in the hope of rewards. Christians, typified by Sara, lift up their hands to Him as their Father, and if they fulfil His will faithfully will become partakers of His glory in heaven.
Prayer. O Jesus, grant that by fasting, prayer, and patience under persecution I may partake in Thy sufferings, and be found worthy of Thy divine promises and Thy eternal consolations in the heavenly Jerusalem. Amen.
GOSPEL. John vi. 1-15.
At that time: Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is that of Tiberias: and a great multitude followed Him, because they saw the miracles which He did on them that were diseased. Jesus therefore went up into a mountain: and there He sat with His disciples. Now the Pasch, the festival-day of the Jews, was near at hand. When Jesus therefore had lifted up His eyes, and seen that a very great multitude cometh to Him, He said to Philip: Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?
And this He said to try him, for He Himself knew what He would do. Philip answered Him: Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that everyone may take a little. One of His disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, saith to Him: There is a boy here that hath five barley loaves, and two fishes: but what are these among so many?
Then Jesus said: Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. The men therefore sat down, in number about five thousand. And Jesus took the loaves; and when He had given thanks, He distributed to them that were sat down: in like manner also of the fishes as much as they would. And when they were filled, He said to His disciples: Gather up the fragments that remain, lest they be lost. They gathered up therefore, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above to them that had eaten. Now those men, when they had seen what a miracle Jesus had done, said: This is of a truth the prophet that is to come into the world. Jesus, therefore, when He knew that they would come to take Him by force and make Him king, fled again into the mountain Himself alone.
Why did Christ thus try St. Philip?
1. To try his faith and confidence.
2. To teach us to make use of natural and ordinary means before we have recourse to the supernatural.
3. So that the miracle would be the more striking to the people, when they were satisfied that the provisions, they had been quite small and insufficient.
4. That we might have confidence in God, Who is a helper in time of tribulation (Ps. ix. 10).
What ceremonies did Our Saviour use at this miracle, and why? He first looked up to heaven, to remind us that every good gift comes from above, and that it is God only Who opens His hand, and fills all with benediction. Second. He thanked His heavenly Father, to show us that we also should be careful to thank God for all His benefits. The table, says St. Chrysostom, which begins and ends with prayer shall never know want. Thirdly He blessed the bread that we might learn that it is the Blessing of God which gives success.
Why did Jesus flee after this miracle?
1. To teach us to seek not the admiration and applause of men, but only the glory of God and the good of our neighbor.
2. To love solitude, that far from the noise of the world, we may with more freedom converse with God.
Consolation in Poverty.
To those poor who follow Christ this gospel is full of consolation, as it shows that from the very beginning of the world God has cared for His children. For the comfort and preservation of His chosen people He sent Joseph before them into Egypt (Gen. xlv. 5; Ps. civ. 4). He sustained the children of [Israel during forty years in the wilderness with bread from heaven He fed the prophet Elias, sending him bread and flesh by a raven (in. Kings xvii. 6). He remembered Daniel lying in the lion’s den (Dan. xiv. 37). In the New Testament also God has shown His care for His own by nourishing and feeding them in their greatest need, at times through the instrumentality of animals and at other times by that of angels and of men as we read in the lives of the saints.
Aspiration. In Thy power and goodness, O my God, I put my trust. I firmly believe if I fear Thee, and do what is right, I shall, though poor here, after this life have abundance of good things from Thee.
Helping Jesus in Disguise
In keeping with the theme "Help Jesus in Disguise," the funds collected this Sunday through the CRS support vital Catholic programs that share in the Catholic mission of promoting the sacredness of human life and the dignity of the human person.
In a statement dated September 10, 2013, the U.S. bishops stated their full support of CRS:
(a.k.a. Laetare, or Mid-Lent Sunday)
A note of joy is struck, for having died to sin with Christ during Lent, we will rise again with Him and be part of His mystical Body, the Church which is the new Jerusalem. Thus, the Introit: "Rejoice, Jerusalem."
The Second Scrutiny
On this Sunday is celebrated the second scrutiny in preparation for the Baptism of the catechumens who are to be admitted to the Sacraments of Christian Initiation at the Easter Vigil.
Invitation to Silent Prayer
After the homily the elect and their godparents come before the celebrant. The celebrant first addresses the assembly of the faithful, inviting them to pray in silence. The celebrant invites the elect to pray.
Celebrant: Elect of God, bow your heads (or kneel down) and pray. (While prayer is being said for the elect, the godparents place their right hand on the shoulder of the one they are sponsoring.
All pray for some time in silence. Then the community and the elect stand for the intercessions.)
Intercessions for the Elect
The celebrant addresses the assembly of the faithful in the following words.
Celebrant: Let us pray for these elect whom God has called, that they may remain faithful to him and boldly give witness to the words of eternal life.
Reader: That, trusting in the truth of Christ, they may find freedom of mind and heart and preserve it always, let us pray to the Lord: R. Lord, hear our prayer.
Reader: That, preferring the folly of the cross to the wisdom of the world, they may glory in God alone, let us pray to the Lord: R. Lord, hear our prayer.
Reader: That freed by the power of the Spirit, they may put all fear behind them and press forward with confidence, let us pray to the Lord: R. Lord, hear our prayer.
Reader: That transformed in the Spirit, they may seek those things that are holy and just, let us pray to the Lord: R. Lord, hear our prayer.
Reader: That all who suffers persecution for Christ’s name may find their strength in him; let us pray to the Lord: R. Lord, hear our prayer.
Reader: That those families and nations prevented from embracing the faith may be granted freedom to believe the Gospel, let us pray to the Lord: R. Lord, hear our prayer.
Reader: That we who are faced with the values of the world may remain faithful to the spirit of the Gospel, let us pray to the Lord: R. Lord, hear our prayer.
Reader: That the whole world, which the Father so loves, may attain in the Church complete spiritual freedom, let us pray to the Lord: R. Lord, hear our prayer.
Rene Descartes (1596-1650), founder of Analytical Geometry and Modern Philosophy
In the beginning of his Meditations (1641) Descartes wrote:
“I have always been of the opinion that the two questions respecting God and the Soul were the chief of those that ought to be determined by help of Philosophy rather than of Theology; for although to us, the faithful, it be sufficient to hold as matters of faith, that the human soul does not perish with the body, and that God exists, it yet assuredly seems impossible ever to persuade infidels of the reality of any religion, or almost even any moral virtue, unless, first of all, those two things be proved to them by natural reason. And since in this life there are frequently greater rewards held out to vice than to virtue, few would prefer the right to the useful, if they were restrained neither by the fear of God nor the expectation of another life.” (Descartes 1901).
“It is absolutely true that we must believe in God, because it is also taught by the Holy Scriptures. On the other hand, we must believe in the Sacred Scriptures because they come from God.” (Descartes 1950, Letter of Dedication).
“And thus, I very clearly see that the certitude and truth of all science depends on the knowledge alone of the true God, insomuch that, before I knew him, I could have no perfect knowledge of any other thing. And now that I know him, I possess the means of acquiring a perfect knowledge respecting innumerable matters, as well relative to God himself and other intellectual objects as to corporeal nature.” (Descartes 1901, Meditation V).
Aids in Battle  The Enemy’s Strategies
· The adversary of our human nature examines from every side all our virtues: theological, cardinal, and moral. Wherever he discovers the defenses of eternal salvation to be the weakest and most lacking, there he attacks and tries to take us by storm. ST. IGNATIUS LOYOLA
· [St. Catherine of Siena reports that Our Lord said to her:] I have told you that the Devil invites men to the water of death— that is, to the things he has. Then, blinding them with the pleasures and circumstances of the world, he catches them with the hook of pleasure through the lure of something good. He could catch them in no other way; they would not allow themselves to be caught if they saw that no good or pleasure for themselves could be obtained in this manner. For the soul, by her very nature, always relishes good. Yet it is true that the soul, blinded by self-love, does not know and discern what is truly good and profitable to the soul and to the body. So, the Devil, seeing them blinded by self-love, wickedly places before these souls diverse and various delights, colored so as to have the appearance of some benefit or good. He tempts each one, according to his condition, to those principal vices to which that soul seems to be most disposed.
· When the sly demon, after using many devices, fails to hinder the prayer of the diligent, he desists for a little while. But when the man has finished his prayers, the demon takes his revenge. He either fires the man’s anger and thus destroys the good condition produced by prayer, or he excites an impulse toward some animal pleasure and thus mocks the man’s mind. ST. NILUS OF SINAI
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