Reflection for the Fourth Sunday of Lent, Year B

Reflection for the Fourth Sunday of Lent, Year B

Mar 11, 2024 | Reflections

The Church wishes to remind us today on this Laetare (Rejoice) Sunday, that joy is a Christian characteristic which should be present at every moment of our lives.  It stems from a heart that knows itself to be loved by God and which is madly in love with Him. Christian joy is perfectly compatible with mortification and pain. For it is sadness, not penance which is opposed to happiness. Suffering and tribulation are inevitable and are eventually the lot of everyone on this earth. So we need to lose our fear of pain and tribulation and unite ourselves to Him. If we offer up all our crosses united with that of Christ, they have incomparable value for the whole Church and the whole of humanity. For sufferings united to those of Christ are redemptive.

In the First Reading God allowed the ancient Jews who had been taken prisoners of war in the sixth century BC to Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar to return home, after seventy years in captivity. God arranged for the King of Persia to conquer Babylon and inspired him to release the Jews and even assist them in restoring the Temple in Jerusalem. The Jews had been punished by God for worshipping false gods, breaking the Commandments and persecuting the prophets. The prophet Jeremiah had prophesied their defeat and exile. despite their huge ingratitude, God did not give up on them, because He is always faithful.  He doesn’t give up on us either. St Paul, in the second reading points out that salvation is a grace, not something earned or deserved. The infinite mercy of God is the explanation of everything we have and will have.

Sacrifice of Calvary

In today’s Gospel, Nicodemus, a leading Pharisee, who had witnessed the teaching and miracles of Jesus, but who was afraid of associating with Him, comes to the Lord by night in secret. Many Catholics today are afraid of peer pressure in the workplace and in the community, but if we try and do everything with Christ, we receive the grace we need to witness to our faith. Without Christ people are like sheep before raging wolves.  Jesus explains to Nicodemus that He must lifted up, as Moses lifted up the bronze serpent in the desert. During the Exodus, due to the disobedience and grumbling of the people, God allowed a chastisement of poisonous snakes amongst the people and many died of snake bite. They then repented and God told Moses to make a bronze serpent and put it on a pole. All those who looked at the bronze serpent after being bitten were instantly healed. Jesus must be raised on the Cross to give eternal life to all who believe in Him. Through the infinite merits of Christ and His incomparable sufferings, salvation comes to us. The Church was born from His pierced Heart and all the Sacraments come through Christ redemptive suffering.  Each of the Sacraments is a channel of grace and an encounter with the Risen Christ. In recent times especially, there have been some attacks on the efficacy of the New Mass and other sacraments by radical traditionists. They forget that the Mass, whether offered in the Novus Ordo or TLM is the one same Sacrifice of Calvary, renewed in time, in an unbloody manner. The words of consecration given by Christ at the Last Supper are the words used in both forms of the Mass.  The numerous Eucharistic miracles in the New Mass remind us that Jesus is fully present, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. For more information on the Mass see this link to Fr Alar’s videos

Throughout my time as a Priest, I have also witnessed miracles through administering the Anointing of the Sick. Jesus would never deny us the fullness of grace in the sacraments. We can never doubt the goodness of God and the Power of the Keys entrusted to Peter and successors to bind and loose.

Through being assiduous in prayer and with aid of the sacraments we grow in holiness, and are more able to stand up for our Faith. Throughout the history of the Church the martyrs have willingly laid down their lives for the Christ. The blood of the martyrs throughout the world is the seed of Christians. It reminds me of the great teenage martyr, St Agnes,  who laid down her life for Christ in about 304 AD. She came from a wealthy, aristocratic Roman family and was very beautiful. All the young noblemen were vying for her hand in marriage, but she informed them that she had already consecrated her heart and virginity to her heavenly husband Jesus. At first her suiters laughed at her, but when she persisted, they became angry. Knowing that she was a Christian, which was a capital offence at the time, they denounced her to the Governor, hoping that her arrest and interrogation might weaken her resolve. They were wrong. She resisted the Governor’s flattery and then his threats. As the various instruments of torture were presented to her for inspection, she refused to be unfaithful to Christ, no matter what the cost.

Finally, egged on by an infuriated mob, the Governor had her put to the death by the sword. She went to her martyrdom more joyfully than most women go to their wedding.  Christian joy is rooted in Christ, whose love for us is stronger than evil, even death.

All unhappiness in life is due to doing our own selfish will, instead of the Will of God. But in our days, God is offering us a new way of life, which is living in the Divine Will. The Church has permitted us to read the Book of Heaven and learn about the life of Servant of God: Luisa Piccarreta. The Our Father prayer given by Jesus will be fulfilled, when God’s Will be done on earth as in Heaven. When this comes about there will be perfect peace and joy because all will be doing only the Will of God. We long for that day.

Praise be Jesus Christ, now and forever! For more information on the divine will see: