Sunday 31 March 2019    (other days)
4th Sunday of Lent 

Christ the Lord was tempted and suffered for us. Come, let us adore him.
Or: O that today you would listen to his voice: harden not your hearts.

Year: C(I). Psalm week: 4. Liturgical Colour: Rose or Violet.

About the author of the Second Reading in today's Office of Readings:

Second Reading: St Augustine of Hippo (354 - 430)
Augustine was born in Thagaste in Africa of a Berber family. He was brought up a Christian but left the Church early and spent a great deal of time seriously seeking the truth, first in the Manichaean heresy, which he abandoned on seeing how nonsensical it was, and then in Neoplatonism, until at length, through the prayers of his mother and the teaching of St Ambrose of Milan, he was converted back to Christianity and baptized in 387, shortly before his mother’s death.
  Augustine had a brilliant legal and academic career, but after his conversion he returned home to Africa and led an ascetic life. He was elected Bishop of Hippo and spent 34 years looking after his flock, teaching them, strengthening them in the faith and protecting them strenuously against the errors of the time. He wrote an enormous amount and left a permanent mark on both philosophy and theology. His Confessions, as dazzling in style as they are deep in content, are a landmark of world literature. The Second Readings in the Office of Readings contain extracts from many of his sermons and commentaries and also from the Confessions.

40 Days and 40 Ways: Fourth Sunday of Lent
And for anyone who is in Christ, there is a new creation; the old creation has gone, and now the new one is here. It is all God’s work. It was God who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the work of handing on this reconciliation. (2 Co 5:17-18)
  Jos 5:9-12
  We are working through the history of Israel towards the promise of the new covenant which is the central point of Easter. In this year’s readings the whole period between the Exodus from Egypt and the promise of the new covenant at the time of the Babylonian Exile, some six hundred years later, is represented by this moment of arrival in the Promised Land of Canaan. This is the moment when the provisional arrangements of the desert wanderings come to an end. The idea of manna is based on an edible honey-like excretion of a desert plant. The stories of the desert wanderings are folk history, not modern research history. It is best to think of manna as the symbol of God’s wonderful protection and feeding of Israel in the harsh and almost uninhabitable conditions of the Sinai desert. The reading describes a double celebration, bringing together two festivals. The Passover in origin is a feast of wandering nomads, as they move at the first full moon of spring from their sheltered winter pastures to cooler summer pastures. The festival of unleavened Bread, on the other hand, marks the beginning of the wheat harvest, a feast of a settled agricultural people. For Paul it represents the newness of Easter, the freshness of the new covenant. Would it help you and your family to make more of religious festivals? How could you do so?
  2 Co 5:17-21
  As we approach the commemoration of Christ’s Passion and Resurrection we begin to focus more carefully on these events. The new Testament uses a variety of images for the event: Christ was glorified (using the idea of the awesome divine glory), raised to the right hand of God (using the imagery of Ps 110), exalted to heaven. We were redeemed like freed slaves, ransomed like hostages, reconciled like estranged friends. When Paul uses these images there is no question of appeasing an angry God, who is to be reconciled by exacting from his innocent Son the punishment due to us sinners. no, man does not reconcile God, but God always does the reconciling. It is a divine action which takes place in Christ. How could God make the sinless one into sin? In Hebrew the same word is used both for ‘sin’ and for ‘sin offering’. Either Paul is using language of the Hebrew cult to express Christ as a sin offering or he means that Christ was put in the position of sinners. Paul likes playing with words. In either case, the heart of the action on Calvary is the full expression of the unitive, divine love of Jesus and his Father. Do you see God as angry and vengeful? Is there any truth in this idea?
  Lk 15:1-3, 11-32
  Who is the hero of the story? What should its title be? Some call it the parable of the Powerless Father, for the father is powerless to do anything but welcome his son. Clearly the principal message of the parable is that we can count on God’s forgiveness, whatever we do. The contrast is also between the two sons. The younger insults his father: all he thinks about is his inheritance, as though he wished his father already dead. All the same, the father is eagerly on the watch, and forgets all his dignity to run and welcome his returning son. And to persuade the elder son to join in the party, he even leaves his dinner guests at table, going out into the field to urge the jealous elder brother to join in. Forgiveness and love is his whole motivation. The elder son responds to his father with insults, “that son of yours”, inventing ideas of sexual loose living, of which there is no suggestion in the story of the younger son. It is a splendid example of Luke’s delicate, witty and subtle characterisation. The anti-hero’s little speech to himself as he wonders how to solve his problem is also typical of Luke, and occurs in several of his parables.
  1. Which brother comes out of the story best? Have you ever felt like the elder brother?
  2. Would the story lose or gain anything if the parent was a mother?
  Celebrate the family by arranging a family party.
Dom Henry Wansbrough

This passage is an extract from the booklet “40 Days and 40 Ways” by Dom Henry Wansbrough OSB, published by the Catholic Truth Society and used by permission. “40 Days and 40 Ways” has meditations for each day in Lent. To find out more about the booklet, or to buy it, please visit the CTS web site.

The Universalis Readings at Mass page shows the readings for today’s Mass.

Liturgical colour: rose (or violet)
Rose is a lighter version of violet, because today the penitential violet is mixed with the white of the approaching festival.
  It is part of human nature that we cannot go on being penitent for a long time, or we sink into a settled and insincere gloom rather than working at the definite and active spiritual exercise called penance. The Church knows human nature, and both in Advent and Lent there is a moment where the atmosphere of penance and preparation is brightened by a shaft of light from the glorious season we are preparing ourselves for.
  The third Sunday of Advent tells us ‘Gaudéte, rejoice!’ because the Lord is near and the fourth Sunday of Lent says ‘Lætáre, Ierúsalem, be joyful, Jerusalem, and all who love her!’ because she herself is loved by the Lord. On Gaudete and Laetare Sundays, therefore, the dark penitential violet may be lightened to what the documents call ‘rose’ but most laymen would call ‘pink’.
  This happens where it is traditional, and appropriate, and vestments of this extra colour are available. Otherwise there is nothing wrong in keeping violet as violet. Ultimately the liturgical colours are there to serve us, not we to serve them.

Mid-morning reading (Terce)1 Thessalonians 4:1,7 ©
My brethren, we urge you and appeal to you in the Lord Jesus to make more and more progress in the kind of life that you are meant to live: the life that God wants, as you learnt from us, and as you are already living it. We have been called by God to be holy, not to be immoral.

Noon reading (Sext)Isaiah 30:15,18 ©
For thus says the Lord, the Holy One of Israel: ‘Your salvation lies in conversion and tranquillity, your strength will come from complete trust.’ The Lord is waiting to be gracious to you, to rise and take pity on you, for the Lord is a just God. Happy are all who hope in him.

Afternoon reading (None)Deuteronomy 4:29-31 ©
You will seek the Lord your God, and if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul, you shall find him. In your distress, all that I have said will overtake you, but at the end of days you will return to the Lord your God and listen to his voice. For the Lord your God is a merciful God and will not desert or destroy you or forget the covenant he made on oath with your fathers.
Scripture readings taken from The Jerusalem Bible, published and copyright © 1966, 1967 and 1968 by Darton, Longman & Todd, Ltd and Doubleday, a division of Random House, Inc, and used by permission of the publishers. For on-line information about other Random House, Inc. books and authors, see the Internet web site at http://www.randomhouse.com.
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