Fourth Sunday of Lent
March 27, 2022 Cycle C

by Rev. Jose Maria de Sousa Alvim Calado Cortes, F.S.C.B.
Chaplain, Saint John Paul II National Shrine,  Washington, D.C.

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Sunday Reading Meditations

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen.

“Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.” Today’s responsorial psalm refrain tells us that we need to experience God’s love.

We need to implore God for the grace of experiencing his love. This prayer never goes unanswered. As today’s responsorial psalm says, “I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears” (Ps 34:4). In order to be receptive to God’s love, we need to open our hearts to him. God’s love is inexhaustible. There is always more for us. As we make more room for him, we receive more.

In the second reading, Saint Paul says: “Whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Cor 5:17). God’s love renews us and fills our hearts with joy. As today’s entrance antiphon says, “Look to him that you be radiant with joy” (Ps 34:5).

We know that we are beloved sons and daughters of God. However, we still do not grasp the full extent of what this means. We know that we are God’s children. However one thing is to know it and a completely different thing is to experience it. The Pharisees and scribes who were speaking with Jesus, as well as the older brother in the parable, knew that they were children of the Father but had not experienced his love. Their relationship with the Father was not loving but formal and external.

The Devil tells us many lies. He is always trying to make us think that we need to be worthy in order for God to love us, that we need to justify his love. The Devil whispers that God cannot love us because we are sinners. He tries to convince us that we are unlovable. He wants to paralyze us with shame and guilt. He creates many walls around our hearts that prevent us from feeling God’s love. He truly wants us to be afraid of God.

The Father loves us with infinite love. He wants to embrace us, like the father in the parable: “He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him” (Lk 15:20).

Life without God is slavery, inhuman. We live in a time when God has been forgotten. So many of our contemporaries are hitting rock bottom, like the younger son: “And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed, but nobody gave him any” (Lk 15:16).

We are embraced by the Father through Christ. The Holy Spirit enables us to pass from darkness to light, from slavery to freedom, from Egypt to the Promised Land. As today’s first reading says, “The LORD said to Joshua [when they arrived in the Promised Land], ‘Today I have removed the reproach of Egypt from you’” (Jos 5:9).

“[H]e got up and went back to his father” (Lk 15:20). Life is our journey back to the Father’s house. The Lenten season is a special time for us to return to God with our whole hearts. In today’s second reading, Saint Paul says: “We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Cor 5:20). Let us accept this invitation.

May this Easter be a time for each one of us to discover God’s love and mercy anew. May the Holy Spirit open our hearts to receive God’s love. May he grant us the grace of tasting and seeing the goodness of the Lord as we have never done before.  Amen.