4th Sunday of Lent, Year C
Note: Homilies & Angelus / Regina Caeli of Pope Saint John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI & Pope Francis I had been compiled for you after the Mass Readings below. Happy Reading!
Mass Readings from ETWN
See our extracts with pictures: 8-)
1st Reading: Joshua 5:9, 10-12,
Responsorial: Psalms 34:2-7,
2nd Reading: 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 &
Gospel: Luke 15:1-3, 11-32.
Liturgical Colour: Pink.
See how the Walls of Jericho were pulled down without arms or explosives:
God’s Story: Joshua and the Battle of Jericho (Children’s video)
Acknowledgment: We thank the Publisher for allowing us to publish the Mass Readings to be used as reference for Homilies & Angelus / Regina Caeli of Pope Saint John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI & Pope Francis I as a source of God’s encouragements to all of us around the World.
Homilies, Angelus / Regina Caeli
See our extracts with pictures in Encouragements-209. 8-)
Having offered the holy and acceptable Sacrifice — the same which Blessed Cyprian Michael Iwene Tansi offered throughout his priestly life — and having been nourished with the Lord's own Body and Blood, we turn in prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary as we recite together the Angelus.
Mary Most Holy, Mother of the Redeemer, we are preparing to celebrate the two thousandth anniversary of the coming on earth of your Son Jesus, who is Emmanuel, God-with-us. Thus we are reminded that God does not abandon his people. No matter what problems or difficulties we may encounter, you teach us to place our trust and hope firmly in the Lord. In him we have the courage and the strength not only to persevere in adverse situations, but also to work actively so that such situations might be overcome and made right again.
Blessed Virgin, Mother of the redeemed, we commend to you the sons and daughters of the Church, which is "the Family of the Father, the Brotherhood of the Son, the Image of the Trinity" (Ecclesia in Africa, 144). We entrust to your maternal care the sick and the lonely, the poor and the hungry, the refugee, the prisoner, the old whose dreams have not been realized, the young whose aspirations are in danger of not being fulfilled. To you, Queen of Nigeria, we commend every citizen of this land who hungers and thirsts for justice.
Pope Saint John Paul II (Angelus, 22 March 1998)
1. "We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God" (2 Corinthians 5: 20). Today, the Fourth Sunday of Lent, the Apostle Paul's words ring out with special eloquence. They are a powerful call to conversion and reconciliation with God. They are an invitation to set out on a journey of authentic spiritual renewal. In experiencing the merciful love of our heavenly Father, the believer in turn becomes a herald and witness of the extraordinary gift offered to all humanity in the crucified and risen Christ.
In this regard the Apostle recalls: "All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself" (ibid., 5: 18). He adds that God continues to appeal through us, "entrusting to us the message of reconciliation" (ibid., 5: 19). The mission of proclaiming reconciliation is the task, first of all, of the Apostles and their successors; it also involves every Christian according to the responsibilities and ways appropriate to his state in life. We are all called, therefore, to be "missionaries of reconciliation" in our words and in our lives.
4. To carry out this vast apostolic programme, dedication to prayer and to hearing God's word is the first thing necessary. I know that in the parish you have various prayer meetings and weekly Eucharistic adoration: I congratulate you. May the heart of every project and missionary plan, dear brothers and sisters, always be Holy Mass, celebrated with faith and joy especially on Sunday, the "Lord's Day".
By contemplating the face of Christ, who died and rose for us, and by celebrating his presence in the Eucharist, you will be able to continue more faithfully and courageously in the great task of the "new evangelization". It is a pressing duty. Indeed, your neighbourhood has not been spared the challenge of sects. I must tell you to make every effort to proclaim the Gospel to your children and to all people of good will, just as the Church has proclaimed it for 2,000 years. Clearly present the truths of the Christian faith, always accompanying them with the language of love and brotherhood that everyone can understand.
5. "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold the new has come" (2 Corinthians 5: 17). That is exactly how it is: in Christ everything is renewed and hope is constantly reborn, even after sad and bitter experiences. The parable of the "Prodigal Son", better described as the parable of the "Merciful Father", proclaimed at our gathering today, assures us that the heavenly Father's merciful love can radically change the attitude of every prodigal son: it can make him a new creation.
He who, after sinning against heaven, was lost and had died is now truly pardoned and restored to life. An extraordinary wonder of God's mercy! The Church's mission is to proclaim and share with all people the great treasure of the "Gospel of mercy".
This is the source of the joy that pervades the liturgy of this Sunday, called precisely "Laetare Sunday", from the first Latin words of the entrance antiphon. It is the joy of the ancient people of Israel, who were able to celebrate their first Passover and enjoy the fruits of the promised land after 40 years of journeying in the desert. It is also the joy of all of us who, after observing the 40 days of Lent, will relive the paschal mystery.
May we be accompanied on this journey by Mary, who with the "fiat" of the Annunciation opened the doors of humanity to the gift of salvation. Through her intercession may we say our "yes" each day to Christ, so as to be ever more fully "reconciled to God". Amen.
Pope Saint John Paul II (Homily, 25 March 2001)
1. Today, 25 March, is the Annunciation of the Lord, but this feast, so deeply rooted in the tradition of the People of God, has been postponed until tomorrow since it coincides with the Fourth Sunday of Lent.
However, we can see a significant connection between today's liturgy of "Laetare Sunday", permeated with mercy and joy, and the Solemnity of the Annunciation. Whereas today we have in some way a foretaste of the light and joy of the paschal mystery, the Solemnity of the Annunciation takes us back to the source of spiritual joy, which is the Incarnation of the Son of God.
My mind returns to the intense moments of the celebration, precisely on this day last year, at which I presided in the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth. With deep emotion I knelt in the humble grotto where Mary heard the angel's words and said her "fiat", making herself totally docile to God's will.
2. Today we want to thank God in a special way for the gift of salvation, which Christ brought to the world by his Incarnation: "Et Verbum caro factum est - The Word became flesh". From contemplation of this mystery all believers can draw renewed spiritual energy for proclaiming and constantly bearing witness to Christ, our only salvation, and for faithfully serving the "Gospel of life" that he entrusts to us.
Faced with the culture of death and attacks against human life that, unfortunately, are increasing, may we never fail to defend it at every stage, from the first moment of conception to its natural end. May humanity experience a new springtime of life, with respect and acceptance for every human being, in whose face shines the image of Christ!
For this let us together beseech Her who is "a living word of comfort for the Church in her struggle against death" (Evangelium vitae, n. 105).
Pope Saint John Paul II (Angelus, 25 March 2001)
1. "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation" (II Corinthians 5: 17).
With these words spoken by the Apostle Paul, we can sum up the message of today's Beatification Liturgy, which is very fitting for this so-called "Laetare Sunday" in the middle of our Lenten journey.
The Second Reading and the Gospel form as it were a duet in praise of the love of God, our Merciful Father (Luke 15: 11-32), who has reconciled us in Christ (II Corinthians 5: 17-21). It is a hymn that makes a heartfelt appeal to "be reconciled to God" (II Corinthians 5: 20).
This invitation is based on the certainty that the Lord loves us. He loved the Israelites and led them into the land of Canaan after the long journey of the Exodus that is full of heartfelt longing, as we heard in the First Reading. The Passover that they celebrated "in the evening in the plains of Jericho" (Joshua 5: 10) and the first months that they spent in the Promised Land became for them an eloquent symbol of divine fidelity, a gift of God's peace to his Chosen People after the sorrowful experience of slavery.
2. The four new Blesseds whom the Church presents to us today are special witnesses of God's loving Providence that accompanies humanity on its way: Luigi Talamoni, Matilde of the Sacred Heart, Piety of the Cross and Maria Candida of the Eucharist.
They faced the labours and trials of their earthly pilgrimage sustained by indomitable trust in the Heavenly Father. In the difficult events of life, their support and comfort was always Christ. Thus, they experienced in themselves how true it is that by living in him we become "new creatures" (cf. II Corinthians 5: 17).
Pope Saint John Paul (Homily, 21 March 2004)
See our extracts with pictures in Encouragements-210. 8-)
I have just returned from Casal del Marmo, the reformatory for minors in Rome, where I went to visit on this Fourth Sunday of Lent, in Latin called Laetare Sunday, that is, "Rejoice", from the first word of the entrance antiphon in the liturgy of Mass.
The liturgy today invites us to rejoice because Easter, the day of Christ's victory over sin and death, is approaching. But where is the source of Christian joy to be found if not in the Eucharist, which Christ left us as spiritual Food while we are pilgrims on this earth?
The Eucharist nurtures in believers of every epoch that deep joy which makes us one with love and peace and originates from communion with God and with our brothers and sisters.
Last Tuesday the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis was presented. Its theme, precisely, is the Eucharist, the source and summit of the Church's life and mission. I wrote it gathering the fruits of the 11th General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which took place in the Vatican in October 2005.
I mean to return to this important text, but I want to emphasize from this moment that it is an expression of the universal Church's faith in the Eucharistic Mystery and is in continuity with the Second Vatican Council and the Magisterium of my venerable Predecessors, Paul VI and John Paul II.
In this Document, I wanted among other things to highlight its connection with the Encyclical Deus Caritas Est: that is why I chose as its title Sacramentum Caritatis, taking up St Thomas Aquinas' beautiful definition of the Eucharist (cf. Summa Th. III, q. 73, a. 3, ad 3), the "Sacrament of charity".
Yes, in the Eucharist Christ wanted to give us his love, which impelled him to offer his life for us on the Cross. At the Last Supper, in washing the disciples' feet, Jesus left us the commandment of love: "even as I have loved you, that you also love one another" (John 13: 34).
However, since this is only possible by remaining united to him like branches to the vine (cf. John 15: 1-8), he chose to remain with us himself in the Eucharist so that we could remain in him.
When, therefore, we nourish ourselves with faith on his Body and Blood, his love passes into us and makes us capable in turn of laying down our lives for our brethren (cf. I John 3: 16) and not to grasp it for ourselves. From this flows Christian joy, the joy of love and the joy to be loved.
Mary is the "Woman of the Eucharist" par excellence, a masterpiece of divine grace: the love of God has made her immaculate, "holy and blameless before him" (cf. Ephesians 1: 4).
At her side, as Custodian of the Redeemer, God placed St Joseph, whose liturgical Solemnity we will be celebrating tomorrow. I invoke this great Saint, my Patron, in particular so that by believing, celebrating and living the Eucharistic Mystery with faith, the People of God will be pervaded by Christ's love and spread its fruits of joy and peace to all humanity.
Pope Benedict XVI (Angelus, 18 March 2007)
On this Fourth Sunday of Lent, the Gospel of the father and the two sons better known as the Parable of the "Prodigal Son" (Luke 15:11-32) is proclaimed. This passage of St Luke constitutes one of the peaks of spirituality and literature of all time. Indeed, what would our culture, art and more generally our civilization be without this revelation of a God the Father so full of mercy? It never fails to move us and every time we hear or read it, it can suggest to us ever new meanings. Above all, this Gospel text has the power of speaking to us of God, of enabling us to know his Face and, better still, his Heart. After Jesus has told us of the merciful Father, things are no longer as they were before. We now know God; he is our Father who out of love created us to be free and endowed us with a conscience, who suffers when we get lost and rejoices when we return. For this reason, our relationship with him is built up through events, just as it happens for every child with his parents: at first he depends on them, then he asserts his autonomy; and, in the end if he develops well he reaches a mature relationship based on gratitude and authentic love.
In these stages we can also identify moments along man's journey in his relationship with God. There can be a phase that resembles childhood: religion prompted by need, by dependence. As man grows up and becomes emancipated, he wants to liberate himself from this submission and become free and adult, able to organize himself and make his own decisions, even thinking he can do without God. Precisely this stage is delicate and can lead to atheism, yet even this frequently conceals the need to discover God's true Face. Fortunately for us, God never fails in his faithfulness and even if we distance ourselves and get lost he continues to follow us with his love, forgiving our errors and speaking to our conscience from within in order to call us back to him. In this parable the sons behave in opposite ways: the younger son leaves home and sinks ever lower whereas the elder son stays at home, but he too has an immature relationship with the Father. In fact, when his brother comes back, the elder brother does not rejoice like the Father; on the contrary he becomes angry and refuses to enter the house. The two sons represent two immature ways of relating to God: rebellion and childish obedience. Both these forms are surmounted through the experience of mercy. Only by experiencing forgiveness, by recognizing one is loved with a freely given love a love greater than our wretchedness but also than our own merit do we at last enter into a truly filial and free relationship with God.
Dear friends, let us meditate on this parable. Let us compare ourselves to the two sons and, especially, contemplate the Heart of the Father. Let us throw ourselves into his arms and be regenerated by his merciful love. May the Virgin Mary, Mater Misericordiae, help us to do this.
Pope Benedict XVI (Angelus, 14 March 2010)
In Chapter 15 of Luke’s Gospel, we find three parables of mercy: that of the sheep found (vv. 4-7), that of the coin found (vv. 8-10), and the great parable of the prodigal son, or rather, of the merciful father (vv. 11-32). Today, it would be nice for each of us to open Chapter 15 of the Gospel according to Luke, and read these three parables. During the Lenten itinerary, the Gospel presents to us this very parable of the merciful Father, featuring a father with his two sons. The story highlights some features of this father who is a man always ready to forgive and to hope against hope. Especially striking is the father’s tolerance before the younger son’s decision to leave home: he could have opposed it, knowing that he was still immature, a youth, or sought a lawyer not to give him his inheritance, as the father was still living. Instead, he allows the son to leave, although foreseeing the possible risks. God works with us like this: He allows us to be free, even to making mistakes, because in creating us, He has given us the great gift of freedom. It is for us to put it to good use. This gift of freedom that God gives us always amazes me!
But the separation from his son is only physical; for the father always carries him in his heart; trustingly, he awaits his return; the father watches the road in the hope of seeing him. And one day he sees him appear in the distance (cf. v. 20). But this means that this father, every day, would climb up to the terrace to see if his son was coming back! Thus the father is moved to see him, he runs toward him, embraces him, kisses him. So much tenderness! And this son got into trouble! But the father still welcomes him so.
The father treated the eldest son the same way, but as he had always stayed at home, he is now indignant and complains because he does not understand and does not share all that kindness toward his brother that had wronged. The father also goes to meet this son and reminds him that they were always together, they share everything (v. 31), one must welcome with joy the brother who has finally returned home. And this makes me think of something: When one feels one is a sinner, one feels worthless, or as I’ve heard some — many — say: ‘Father, I am like dirt’, so then, this is the moment to go to the Father. Instead, when one feels righteous — ‘I always did the right thing …’ —, equally, the Father comes to seek us, because this attitude of feeling ‘right’, is the wrong attitude: it is pride! It comes from the devil. The Father waits for those who recognize they are sinners and goes in search of the ones who feel ‘righteous’. This is our Father!
In this parable, you can also glimpse a third son. A third son? Where? He’s hidden! And it is the one, ‘who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant” (Philippians 2:6-7). This Servant-Son is Jesus!
He is ‘the extension of the arms and heart of the Father: he welcomed the prodigal Son and washed his dirty feet; he prepared the banquet for the feast of forgiveness. He, Jesus, teaches us to be “merciful as the Father is merciful”.
The figure of the Father in the parable reveals the heart of God. He is the Merciful Father who, in Jesus, loves us beyond measure, always awaits our conversion every time we make mistakes; he awaits our return when we turn away from him thinking, we can do without him; he is always ready to open his arms no matter what happened. As the father of the Gospel, God also continues to consider us his children, even when we get lost, and comes to us with tenderness when we return to him. He addresses us so kindly when we believe we are right. The errors we commit, even if bad, do not wear out the fidelity of his love. In the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we can always start out anew: He welcomes us, gives us the dignity of being his children and tells us: “Go ahead! Be at peace! Rise, go ahead!”
In this time of Lent that still separates us from Easter, we are called to intensify the inner journey of conversion. May the loving gaze of our Father touch us. Let us return and return to him with all our heart, rejecting any compromise with sin. May the Virgin Mary accompany us until the regenerating embrace with Divine Mercy.
Pope Francis I (Angelus, 6 March 2016)
Note: This webpage has many hyperlinks to the Vatican Webpage. The above extracts were compiled for your easy reading.
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Compiled on 24 March 2019