Love. Changes. Everything.

A reflection for the fourth week in Lent.

By Sister Elizabeth Langmead, MHSH

“Prodigal Son” by Kristi Valiant

 

Today marks the fourth Sunday of Lent, traditionally known as Laetare Sunday, from the word ‘”rejoice,” be joyful.  We are halfway into Lent and Easter is fast approaching.  Our readings this Sunday speak of love, mercy, reconciliation and forgiveness. 

As I reflected upon today’s reading a song repeated in my heart, “Love Changes Everything!”  Love, the song tells us, “will turn your world around….”  Each of our readings speak of changed worlds – changed hearts.  The Israelites have reached the promised land of Canaan and Paul reminds us in the second reading that “whoever is in Christ is a new creation…the old things have passed away….”  I wonder what has passed away for me/you these four weeks of Lent or where have we found the newness that comes in our returning to or deepening our friendship with God?  It is through that deepening friendship that we bear fruit (remember the barren fig tree from last week).  What is the fruit we are bearing – tending?

Again, the lyrics of the song, “Love changes everything, brings you glory, brings you shame. Nothing in the world will ever be the same.”  How have we been reconciled to God these weeks and what is the call we have received to be reconcilers?  When Paul implores us on behalf of Christ to be reconciled to God, to whom else do we need to be reconciled?  The parable of the Prodigal Son shows that through love everything is changed.  It is love that restores and brings us to our senses.  Who is it in this parable that speaks to you today?  Is it the loving, forgiving and merciful father?  Is it the young son who went off to do his own thing only to find he lost it all and needed to find a way back home?  The young son who was, most likely, expecting a reprimand (maybe even a dismissal) and instead was greeted by a loving father who ran out to meet him on his return and threw a party in his honor. 

Have you experienced that kind of love and acceptance that goes beyond humiliation at mistakes and uplifts and restores to life?  Some would say the father was a fool and perhaps that’s even what the older son was thinking, yet, “love does change everything…and love makes fools of everyone.”    Has love ever made a fool of you or made you do seemingly foolish things?  Can you relate to the older son’s upset – the absence of his joy in serving – his feelings of being unnoticed and unappreciated? The older son’s understanding of the limitlessness of the father’s love is revealed in his jealousy.  Don’t you wonder if the older son’s heart was changed by the love of his father who left the celebration of his younger son to go out and plead with this older son?  I do think love changes everything and as the song says,  it changes everyone and “love will never, never let you be the same.”

Cause for Rejoicing

Reflection for the Fourth Sunday in Lent (Laetare Sunday)

By Marilyn Dunphy

 

We’ve all met them – people who just can’t or won’t be convinced or dissuaded of something no matter how strong the evidence.  Whether they cling to a deeply held personal bias, a conspiracy theory gone viral on the internet, or a belief system that leaves no room for questioning or a different interpretation, they (we?) can be a frustrating lot to deal with.

So it was for Jesus in today’s Gospel message wherein Jesus cures a blind man. His disciples assumed, as was commonly believed, that someone sinned and thus caused the man’s blindness. Then in almost comical fashion some of the crowd and the Pharisees engaged in an exercise in contortion to deny that Jesus healed the man. The man could not have been blind from birth, or he was an imposter, or if he was blind and Jesus healed him then Jesus was not “from God.”

What they had just seen with their own eyes was so incompatible with what they believed to be true, it had to be explained away.

A related theme is presented in the first reading when Samuel assumed that the king of Israel would be chosen from among the seven sons of Jesse who were presented to Samuel.  But God had other plans. In this case Samuel was open to the message of the Lord and sent for the youngest son, David, who had not even been brought to the ceremony. It was David, deemed unworthy by everyone else, whom the Lord chose.

“Not as people see does God see, because people see the appearance but the Lord looks into the heart”. (1 Samuel 16: 7)

On this Laetare Sunday we can rejoice that God indeed sees differently than we do. We can rejoice that we are created in God’s image and likeness; not the other way around. No matter how hard we try to force-fit God into our own worldview, God is waiting to open our eyes, minds and hearts to the mystery before us. God desires to free us from our tendency to distance ourselves from God when we perceive ourselves to be sinful or at least “not good enough.” God desires to shatter our shallow and sometimes self-serving notions of the worthiness or unworthiness of others. God desires to surprise and delight us with boundless love, life and light.  If only we will “see.”

For reflection:

In what area(s) of your life might you like God to heal any beliefs, attitudes or emotions that inhibit your acceptance of God’s unconditional love?

Do you sometimes find yourself judging others as “unworthy” because they do not meet your expectations in some regard?  Perhaps you can pray for the grace to see more as God sees.