It is 31st March 2019. We are entering into the Fourth Sunday of Lent which is called Laetare Sunday or the Sunday of Joy. We are so close to the Easter. “Rejoice, Jerusalem, and all who love her. Be joyful all who were in mourning;” (Is.66:10). The readings are from Joshua 5:9-12; the second reading is from 2 Corinthians 5:17-21; and the Gospel from Luke 15:1-3, 11-32. All the readings set the tone of joy by the end of painful desert experience and glorious entrance into the Promised Land, becoming a new creation by the forgiveness of sins and the extraordinary display of mercy of God that brings about joy in our hearts even though we have been crushed by the claws of sins yet God embraces us and rejoices in our return to Father’s house. Through the first reading, God invites us to have the Passover meal with our families after having returned from the slavery of sin. God has removed our shame and guilt from our life and that is what makes us to rejoice. “Today, I have removed the shame of Egypt from you.” (Jos. 5:9). Our repentance is the reason to be joyful for. God forgives our sins more than we can ask for. St. Paul insists that that we are joyful because we have become a new creation in Christ Jesus and our willingness to be reconciled to God through God’s only Beloved Son. There is always another chance offered by God for us to return to God. The responsorial praises, “Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.” (Ps.34:9). In the Gospel, Jesus describes the most moving and inspiring story to bring us all back to the merciful Father who rejoices in our voluntary and free return to the Lord. We are all one way or the other been exposed to the heat of sin and selfishness and squandered the resources of God and lived a life that we are not happy about. Lent is indeed the time to come back to the Father’s house not with guilt and shame but with the confidence of being forgiven, shown love and mercy by the Father who only cares for us. This story is a masterpiece because of the uncompromising Father’s love and mercy towards us who are fallen. The story is about the patient (the younger son), the impatient (the elder son) and the ever-patient (the lavishing loving Father). We all need to work on our greedy and sinful longing to be attached to life of pleasure and not to be too rash in our judgements on others who are living such sinful lives. Jesus presents a Father whom we will never have on earth with such intense forgiving and mercifulness; generosity and gentleness; to be lavish in loving; and joyful in our journey back home welcoming. God is so anxiously waiting for our return to offer the promised land, heritage and heaven. Let us rejoice in the Lord as God holds nothing against us. No matter who loves us or hates us but God loves us for nothing and beyond everything. God rejoices in our return for good to enjoy the blessings God alone can offer to us. The Heavenly Father’s joy is the celebration of our repentance and conversion. Let us get reconciled with God through the Church in the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation. We all owe an apology to our merciful God and so let us confess our sins. May you have a good day and God bless you.

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