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Sunday, March 15, 2015

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Fourth Sunday of Lent

2 Chronicles 36:14-17, 19-23
Ephesians 2:4-10
Psalm 137:1-6
John 3:14-21

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suffering joy

"We are truly His handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to lead the life of good deeds which God prepared for us in advance." —Ephesians 2:10

Today is "Laetare Sunday" or, in English, "Joy Sunday." The Church commands us to rejoice. We rejoice in how the Lord has been loving us throughout the first half of Lent. We joyfully anticipate the glories of the Easter season.

However, many of us seem to have little to rejoice in. We have been rejected, abused, and hurt. Lent has not been the springtime of our life, but a devastating winter storm with no signs of letting up. How can we rejoice under the worst circumstances?

The Lord does not command us to rejoice in the circumstances but in Him (Phil 4:4). The Lord has been rich in mercy toward us (Eph 2:4). He has "brought us to life with Christ when we were dead in sin" (Eph 2:5). He has saved us, raised us up, and given us a place in the heavens (Eph 2:6). The Lord has given us eternal life.

No matter how bad things are, if we have given our lives to Jesus, we have reason to rejoice. We can rejoice in Jesus and our salvation. We can have Jesus' joy (Jn 15:11) — a joy that no one can take away from us (Jn 16:22). Our love for Jesus will free us from slavery to circumstances. We will not only be freed from seeing our troubles as obstacles to joy; we will even see them as reasons for joy (1 Pt 1:6). In fact, our joy will be proportionate to our sufferings for Jesus (1 Pt 4:13). The more we suffer for His kingdom, the more joy we have.

Prayer:  Father, this Lent give me the fruit of the Spirit — miraculous, divine joy (Gal 5:22).

Promise:  "God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him may not die but may have eternal life." —Jn 3:16

Praise:  "My being proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit finds joy in God my Savior" (Lk 1:46:47).

Rescript:  †Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, August 25, 2014

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