Sunday, March 27, 2016

Catching The Sunrise

Easter Sunday

Picture: cc arditpg

My dear friends, do you know what it takes to catch a sunrise? Have you ever tried? People sometimes do it while on vacation. Or at a retreat. Typically, it requires movement of some sort. You have to get out of bed early, for example. And maybe even climb a hill. And you need to turn your eyes to the east, because that’s where the sun comes from. And then, if you pay attention patiently enough, you will see it. The dawning of a new day. You will gaze in wonder, as the light gradually overtakes and overwhelms the darkness. An awe-inspiring sight. Something that will probably make you want to tell others about it. As soon as possible. To post your pics. To tweet your excitement.  To share your experience. To proclaim your joy.

Movement, attention and proclamation. M-A-P. These three steps serve as a map that leads us to the sunrise. A map that works well for Easter too. For Easter, as you know, is very much like a sunrise. The gospel begins by telling us that it was very early on the first day of the week and still dark. The sun had not yet risen. Except that this, as you know, is no ordinary darkness. This is chapter 20 of John’s gospel. Earlier, in chapter 13, at the Last Supper, after Judas goes out to betray Jesus, we’re told that night had fallen. The night of ignorance and unbelief. Of betrayal and hardness of heart. A spiritual darkness. Which lingers into chapter 20. Even as Mary of Magdala approaches the tomb, on that first Easter morning.

This is the deeper darkness that Easter dispels. Just like how the night is overtaken and overwhelmed by the rising of the sun. But how do people go about catching this spiritual sunrise? How to experience its power? Where to go? What to do? The Mass readings provide us with the map.

The first step is MOVEMENT. We see it most clearly in the gospel. Notice how everyone is moving. Running. Mary runs to Simon Peter and the beloved disciple. Who both then run to the tomb together. But that’s not all. After they arrive there, a more important movement takes place. They both enter the tomb. One after the other. Which is probably not an easy thing for them to do. For the tomb is also a spiritual place. To enter it is to plunge into their own inner darkness. Imagine what this must be like. Especially for Peter. Who had three times denied the Lord. To enter the tomb is to face his own guilt and shame. His own grief and pain. Not an easy movement to make.

But, somehow, the disciples manage it. Spurred on, perhaps, by their love for their Master. Is it any accident that the one who reaches the tomb first is the disciple described as the one whom Jesus loved? In any case, they both enter the tomb. Much like how people might climb a hill to watch the sunrise. And it is here that the day begins to dawn for them. Here, the burial cloths–once only trappings of death–are transformed into signs of new life. The reading tells us that at least one of them saw and he believed.

This, my dear friends, is the first step of Easter. Movement. And this too is what each of us needs to undertake. In fact, this is what we have been doing throughout the great Season of Lent. Move. From the superficial comfort of our preoccupied lives. To the unresolved tensions that so often lie hidden below the surface. The unexpressed hungers and unconfessed guilt. The unasked questions and unacknowledged pain. All the things that we so often ignore and suppress. Only to have them engulf us. Like the blackest of nights. What to do? How to catch the sunrise? We need first to follow Christ into this inner darkness. To enter, with him, this interior tomb. And there to allow him to convince us that he must rise from the dead.

Nor is this movement something that happens once and for all. However intense our initial conversion experience may have been. Whether it was at the RCIA or the CER. The PRE or ME. Or at some other retreat or renewal programme. The challenge for us is to remain attentive. To keep moving daily. To keep facing, with Christ, our inner darkness. So that it can be transformed for us into light. ATTENTION. This is the second step of Easter.

And this is also the good habit that the second reading encourages us to cultivate. Let your thoughts be on heavenly things, not on the things that are on the earth, because you have died, and now the life you have is hidden with Christ in God. In other words, keep watch over yourself. Especially your inner self. Your thoughts and feelings. Your attitudes and convictions. Be alert to the subtle ways in which darkness can creep into your heart. Drawing you into anger and resentment. Depression and despair. Envy and rash judgment. And when you see this happening, make a conscious decision to turn toward the light. Like how people turn to face the east. In order to catch the rising of the sun. To see light in the midst of darkness. New life in the face of death.

And what happens if you do see the light? What if you do catch the sunrise? Is that the end of it? No. For it is in the nature of true joy, of authentic hope, always to seek company. Always to yearn to be shared with others. Isn’t this why we see Peter doing what he’s doing in the first reading? He goes to the home of Cornelius, a Roman centurion. And proclaims the good news to his whole household. We are… witnesses. We have eaten and drunk with him after his resurrection from the dead. And he has ordered us to proclaim this to his people… Movement and attention leads to PROCLAMATION. The third step of Easter.

Movement, attention and proclamation. Three steps that enable us to catch the rising of the sun. The dawning of the day. The same day that we sang about in the response to the psalm: This day was made by the Lord: we rejoice and are glad. A day that consists not just in 12 or 24 hours. But an eternal day. Filled with joy and hope. This is the gift of Easter. A gift so badly needed not just by us. But also by the rest of our world. Covered as it is in the painful night of ignorance and unbelief. Of conflict and division. Of loneliness and pain. The new day of joy and hope. This is the gift that, as baptised Christians, followers of the Crucified and Risen One, we are all called to share.

Sisters and brothers, Christ the Eternal Sun has Risen! What must we do to keep basking in the joy of his Glory? To keep ushering others into the brilliance of his Light today?

Friday, March 25, 2016

Resounding Refrain

Friday of the Passion of the Lord
Celebration of the Passion of the Lord

Picture: cc sean dreilinger

My dear friends, do you know what a refrain is? I’m sure you do. It’s that part of a song that keeps getting repeated. Over and over again. Usually, it’s something that the composer wants to emphasise. Well, if you were to compose a song today. A song about the Mystery we are celebrating. A song about the Passion of the Lord. What would you choose to emphasise? How would you phrase your refrain?

For a start, perhaps we could first consider what to put into the verses of our song. This shouldn’t be too difficult. It’s a song about the Passion of the Lord. So one way to do it is simply to include the events that happened. All that the Lord did between Holy Thursday evening and Easter Sunday morning. Or, more importantly, all that he allowed to be done to him.

We might begin by singing of his arrest in the Garden. Of how he submitted, even though he could have run away. Or incited his disciples to resist. To meet violence with violence. For he was able to make his enemies fall down. Simply by saying I am he. Yet, he refused to resist. He submitted humbly. Am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given? And he protected his friends. If I am the one you are looking for, let these others go…

We could sing also of his so-called trial. First before the Jewish authorities, and then the Roman governor. We could sing of how his enemies went all out to kill him. Even when Pilate could find no case. Of how, though innocent, Jesus submitted himself. First to mockery and torture. And then to condemnation and death. O, the injustice of it all. The injustice, and the shame. We could also sing of how he died. With his flesh torn and tattered. But his spirit unbroken and unbowed. Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.… It is accomplished…

All these things we could include in our song. But what of the refrain? I’m not sure what you think, sisters and brothers. But I’m drawn to these words from the first reading: We thought of him as someone punished… by God. Yet he was pierced through for our faults, crushed for our sins… These words tell me not just what the Lord endured. But why he endured it. He did it for me…

He did it to help me do what the second reading encourages me to do. To never let go of the faith we have professed. But to be confident… in approaching the throne of grace, that we shall have mercy from him and find grace when we are in need of help…. He did it to give me hope. He did it for me…

I’m reminded of these words from another song about the Passion. I think you know it: Were you there when they crucified my Lord…. Were you there when they nailed him to a tree…. Sometimes it causes me to tremble… To tremble, when I remember that he did it for me. He did it all for me…

He did it for me. This is my refrain. Something that needs to be repeated over and over again. And not just with my lips. But also especially with my life. He did it for me… He did it for me…

My dear friends, what must we do to let this refrain resound, in hearts and in our world, in the days ahead?

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Laundry & The Last Supper

Holy Thursday
Mass of The Last Supper

Picture: cc Kim MyoungSung

Sisters and brothers, do you remember the last time you did the laundry? What did it involve? I’m not sure if it’s the same for you. But when I do my laundry, it usually involves at least three things. Let me begin with the end result. When I do the laundry, what I expect to get out of it at the end is a fresh start. A batch of clean clothes. And, of course, to achieve this, the soiled clothes need to be put through a process of washing and drying. Requiring not just water. But also detergent. Something to remove the dirt.

A fresh start and a good wash. Those are just two things. I said there were three. Can you guess what the third one is? It’s actually something that I do first of all. Even before I put the soiled clothes into the washer. Perhaps some of you do it too. It’s to turn the clothes inside out. These are the three things that happen when I do the laundry: There is a refreshing, a washing, and turning of things inside out.

But why talk about all this tonight, when we celebrate the Mass of the Lord’s Supper? On this solemn evening, when we recall how Jesus embarked on the final phase of his mission on earth, by first gathering his disciples in an upper room? Why talk about doing the laundry, when what we are celebrating is an intimate farewell meal?

The reason is not difficult to guess. It has something to do with the fact that meals are typically not just about eating. They usually have deeper meanings. And our Mass readings help us to penetrate the deeper meaning of the Last Supper. The deeper meaning of the Eucharist. And, strange as it may sound, the readings do this by pointing out to us three things that are very similar to what happens when we do the laundry.

Again, we begin with the end result. To make a fresh start. This is why we do the laundry. This is also what the Last Supper is really about. By having a final meal with them, Jesus is telling his disciples that what he is about to do is to help them to make a fresh start. And not just them, but all of us as well. Through his Cross and Resurrection, Jesus helps the whole of Creation to make a fresh start. Much like how God helped the people of Israel in the first reading.

The Israelites, as you know, were slaves in Egypt. Oppressed by Pharaoh. And God set them free. Gave them a new beginning. Which they are then instructed to commemorate every year. By gathering to eat the Passover meal. In a month that becomes for them the first month of their year.

A new beginning. A fresh start. This is what the Last Supper is really about. And this is also what we celebrate every time we gather for the Eucharist. We celebrate the different ways in which God continues to set us free from our slavery to sin. And to all the other weaknesses that oppress us. So that we might enjoy the dignity and freedom that belongs to us. The children of God.

But in order for this fresh start to take place, there must first be something like a washing. A cleansing with the most powerful of all detergents. In the gospel, Jesus washes his disciples’ feet with water. But that washing with water symbolises something far more potent. It points to the same thing that the Israelites used, in the first reading, to mark their lintels and doorposts. The same thing mentioned by Jesus himself, in the second reading. When the Lord offers his disciples the cup of wine at supper. And the same thing that we sang about just now, in that beautiful response to the psalm. The cleansing that the Last Supper signifies is effected not just with water, but with blood. The blood of an innocent, spotless lamb. Put to death to set a people free.

A fresh start brought about by a washing in blood. This is what the Last Supper is really about. This is what we celebrate every time we gather for the Eucharist. But that’s not all. As it is when we do the laundry, so too with the Last Supper. So too with the Eucharist. There is also a turning inside out. Perhaps even upside down. What do we mean?

Typically, in many religious celebrations, it is the people who offer sacrifices to the gods. It is the people who have to wash themselves, in order to be fit to enter into the presence of their god. Even in the first reading, it is an animal that is killed. A goat. Or a sheep. So that its blood can be used as a sign to God. So that God might pass over the people. Without doing them harm.

But notice how, at the Last Supper, all this gets turned inside out. And upside down. At the Last Supper, it is not people who wash themselves, but God who washes them. At the Last Supper, what we find is not so much a sacrifice offered by the people to their god. As much as it is a sacrifice offered by God to the people. Jesus gives himself as a sacrifice. Offered to us. To show us just how much we are loved. Just how much God loves us. Which is why the gospel tells us that, at the Last Supper, Jesus showed how perfect his love was.

At the Last Supper, it is not a sheep that is sacrificed. But the shepherd. The Chief Shepherd himself. Christ the Lord. Who goes to his death, not just to show us how much we are loved. But also to beg us to allow ourselves to be loved. This is my body… broken for you… This is my blood… poured out for you…  Won’t you eat it? Won’t you drink it? Won’t you share in the life I am offering you? The life that I am now going to lay down for you?

At the Last Supper, something is turned inside out and upside down. God prepares to die. So that we might live. And so that we too might allow ourselves to be turned inside out. To exchange our selfishness for God’s love. And to spend our lives doing the same for our world. Replacing oppression with service. Hatred with compassion. Conflict with peace.

Sisters and brothers, if the Last Supper is indeed similar to doing the laundry. Then what must we do to continue allowing ourselves and our world to be turned inside out today?

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Beautiful Body

Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord (C)

Picture: cc angrylambie1

Sisters and brothers, imagine for a moment that you are a famous celebrity. And you want to increase the number of your followers on social media. What do you do? Well, I’m neither a celebrity nor a media consultant, but I’m told that one effective method is simply to post more pictures of yourself. Especially if you have a beautiful body. Flaunt it. Bare more skin. Show off your new bikini. Preferably with you in it… Bare and beautiful bodies. That’s what draws the most interest. That’s what catches people’s attention.

Shocking as it may seem to some, this is also what we find in our Mass readings today. As we begin the holiest week of our Church’s year. The readings draw our attention to a beautiful body. Not just any beautiful body. But the beautiful Body of Jesus himself. You may have noticed, for example, how the reading of the Passion both begins and ends with references to the Lord’s Body.

At the beginning, as Jesus takes his place at table with his disciples, he says: This is my body which will be given for you; do this as a memorial of me. And, at the end, we find not just one, but two references to Jesus’ Body. We’re told that, after the Lord had died on the Cross, Joseph of Arimathea went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. He then took it down, wrapped it in a shroud and put him in a tomb. We’re also told that some of Jesus’ female disciples took note of the tomb and of the position of the body.

Quite strikingly, Luke’s account of the Passion is framed by references to the Lord’s Body. Clearly, this is something important. Something to which we need to pay close attention. The Body of the Lord. A body that is truly beautiful. But not in the ways that our world usually defines beauty. In what then does the Lord’s beauty consist? We find some indications in the other readings.

The first reading speaks of various body parts that function in very particular ways. There is, for example, a disciple’s tongue. Which knows how to reply to the wearied. How to comfort those weighed down by the burdens of life. From where does this tongue get its knowledge? From the ears. Which God awakens every morning to listen like a disciple. The reading goes on to describe how the rest of this body also functions as a disciple. Especially how it makes no resistance when others refuse to accept its proclamation of God’s Word. When they respond, instead, with abuse. I offered my back to those who struck me, my cheeks to those who tore at my beard; I did not cover my face against insult and spittle.

Unquestioning obedience. Humble submission to the will of God. Patient endurance of mistreatment. This is what a disciple’s body looks like. This is true beauty. A beauty modelled for us, in the second reading, by the only begotten Son of God himself. Whose state was divine. Yet did not cling to his equality with God. But emptied himself to assume the condition of a slave. Taking on a human body like ours. And even accepting death on a cross. In order that we might live.

My dear friends, as we begin the holiest week of our year, our readings draw our attention to the Body of the Lord. A Body that shows us the Way to Life. A Body that invites us to contemplate and to adore its startling beauty. To take careful note of its various positions. And to seek to imitate and to follow it in our own lives. In memory of Him, who loved us to the point of laying down His life for our sakes. 

Sisters and brothers, today the Lord is posting pictures of His Body. Bare. Broken. Beautiful. What must we do to follow his feed?

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Forgetting As Overwriting

5th Sunday of Lent (C)

Picture: cc IBM Research

Sisters and brothers, have you ever deleted something from a computer? Do you know what happens when you do? I didn’t. I used to think that whatever I delete is simply erased forever. Wiped out. Washed away. Never to be seen again. But I was wrong. That’s not quite how it works. As you probably already know, what actually happens, when something is deleted, is that the data simply gets moved from one spot to another. And it’s then eventually written over by other data. Alternatively, I could use a special programme to write over the unwanted data immediately. So that it can’t be retrieved again.

The point is that, whatever method I choose, the deleted data isn’t erased completely. It actually remains in the computer’s memory. Except that it gets transformed in some way. By having other things written on top of it. Not unlike how an artist might paint over a mistake. Or incorporate it into a new image. Instead of using a brand new canvas.

Now, if this is true of data in a computer. And of mistakes in a painting. What about situations in my life? Events that I may wish to forget. How do I do that? Is it even possible? For example, haven’t we heard people say that, although they may be able to forgive someone who has hurt them, they are unable to forget? Unable to wipe clean the slate of their memory. How then to truly forgive? If we cannot forget? How to begin a new chapter of my life? If the scars of the past remain painfully etched in my mind and in my heart?

These are the important questions that our Mass readings help us to ponder on this 5th Sunday in Lent. Just seven more days till Holy Week. In each of our readings today, we find people being taught to forget the past. And in a very special way.

In the first reading, the people are suffering in exile in Babylon. And as they suffer, they are probably recalling the mighty deeds that God had worked for them in the past. And perhaps asking why God doesn’t do the same for them now. In the present. Why God doesn’t free them from Babylon. The way God freed their ancestors from Egypt.

God’s response seems at first rather surprising. Even shocking. God tells them that there is no need to recall the past. God invites them to stop focusing only on the mighty things that God did for their ancestors. But why? And how? Why forget a glorious past that they have always been taught to remember? The reason is simple. God is going to do for them something just as great, if not even greater, in the present. I am doing a new deed, God declares. Can you not see it? Yes, I am making a road in the wilderness, paths in the wilds

How does God help the people to stop clinging mournfully to their glorious past? Not by erasing it from their memory. But, instead, by writing over it with something even more wonderful. Something even more glorious. What the people need to do is not so much to erase the past, as to pay closer attention to the present. To the wonders that God is doing for them here and now.

St. Paul’s experience in the second reading is similar. He too finds himself prompted to forget the past. To stop clinging to his impressive qualifications as a fully trained and zealously observant Pharisee. How does he do this? How is he able not only let go of his considerable achievements, but even to regard them as so much rubbish? He does it not by erasing them. Or by wiping them out from his memory. But by having them written over by something much more valuable. Something far more powerful. His own unforgettable experience of meeting and falling in love with Jesus Christ. Paul is more than willing let go of the past, because he is captured and captivated by Christ in the present.

All of which helps us to better understand what is going on in the gospel. Here, the adulterous woman faces the difficult task of forgetting not just her own sinful actions. But also the traumatic treatment she receives from the enemies of Jesus. Who use her as nothing more than a tool to trap the Lord. Not only do they catch her in the very act of committing adultery. The reading tells us that they also parade her–very likely in some state of undress–in full view of everybody. How is this woman to forgive these cruel men? How to forgive herself? How to forget this painful and shameful past? In order to do what Jesus invites her to do? Go away, and do not sin any more…

Very likely it would be close to impossible for her to forget the past. If forgetting means simply to erase the events from her memory. But perhaps not so unthinkable, if forgetting means allowing her shame and her pain to be transformed. To be written over by something more powerful. The indescribable experience of hearing the Only Begotten Son of God speak up for her against her accusers. Of having him defend her. And champion her cause. If there is one of you who has not sinned, let him be the first to throw a stone at her. To have the Lord gaze gently and compassionately into her confused and fearful eyes. And to hear him speak those consoling and reassuring words: Has no one condemned you? Neither do I condemn you…

Like the exiled people of Judah in the first reading. And like Paul in the second. If the woman in the gospel is able to let go of the past, it is only because she has experienced something more powerful and compelling in the present. Something that overwrites everything that she needs to forget. Everything that she needs to let go. So that she can respond to the call of the Lord. Inviting her to follow him into the future.

Sisters and brothers, could this be what it really means to forgive and to forget. Not so much that we should force ourselves to erase every trace of the past from our minds. But, instead, that we should do whatever we can to allow ourselves to be captured and captivated by the powerful presence of Christ. Healing us. Forgiving us. Setting us free…

And isn’t this what the Season of Lent is about? Allowing the Lord to set us free from all the things that bind us. All the things to which we cling. All the things that prevent us from following Jesus as he walks the Way of the Cross. The only Way that leads to Life.

Sisters and brothers, as we continue our Lenten observance, how does the Lord wish to set you free? What data does he wish to delete from your mind and heart? By writing over it with the power of his love and mercy today?

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Watching What We Eat

4th Sunday of Lent (Laetare Sunday) (C)

My dear friends, as you probably already know, some people actually believe that we are what we eat. Of course, they don’t mean it literally. Otherwise, imagine what would happen if you were to eat a beef steak. Or a pork chop. Or haggis. Or ayam buah keluak… No, when people say we are what we eat, they mean that our diet has a profound effect on our physical, mental, and even emotional health. That the things we put into our stomachs somehow determine the kind of people we become.

For example, I recently watched a TEDx talk by Hether Crawford. A personal trainer who’s also a wife and mother of two. She shares her experience of how, by cutting back on things like soft drinks and fast food, and by eating more freshly-cooked meals, her family was able to reduce illness, and to increase productivity. Important adjustments to their diet led to dramatic improvements in the quality of their lives. For the Crawfords, this experience is sufficient proof that we are indeed what we eat

What do you think, sisters and brothers? Do you agree?

I am, of course, neither a doctor nor a nutritionist. I can offer no expert opinion one way or the other. I can’t say for sure how medically accurate is the belief that we are what we eat. But I think there is a sense in which it is spiritually true. In fact, this is precisely what we find in our Mass readings today: The close spiritual connection between food and flourishing. Between eating and rejoicing.

In the first reading, the people of Israel undergo an important change in their diet. While they were in Egypt, they had eaten only what their Egyptian masters provided. And while wandering in the wilderness, they had eaten manna given by God. Food that they gathered everyday. But now, having finally settled in the land of Canaan, the Promised Land, they have been able to plant and harvest their own crops. They experience the satisfaction of filling their bellies with food for which their own hands have worked. This is the key shift. From working only as slaves of others. To relying only on the charity of Another. To finally enjoying the fruits of their own free labour.

And this change has a significant impact on them. Although we don’t know anything about its exact nutritional effects, the reading tells us that the shift in diet makes a tremendous psychological, emotional and spiritual difference. For God tells Joshua: Today, I have taken the shame of Egypt away from them. For the Israelites, the eating of home-grown food leads to the lifting of the shame of slavery.

We see something similar in the gospel. We know the story well. The Parable of the Prodigal Son. But what we may not notice is the change of diet. When the younger son is far from home, he feeds on things that do not nourish but, instead, enslave him. His life of debauchery leads him only as far as the desperate doors of starvation. Here am I dying of hunger! He exclaims to himself, after having come to his senses. Which is why he decides to leave this place and go to my father. Fortunately for him, his father welcomes him warmly. Ushers him into the family home. And treats him to a lavish mouth-watering feast. 

From starvation to satisfaction. From distant debauchery to a home-cooked meal. This is the radical change in diet that the younger son undergoes. And, as it was for the Israelites in the first reading, so too for him. The eating of home-cooked food leads to the lifting of the shame of slavery. For he had originally been willing to be taken for no more than a servant. I no longer deserve to be called your son, he had planned to say to his father. Treat me as one of your paid servants. But his father had other ideas. He restores to the boy the dignity of his sonship. Enabling him to join the celebration. To share his father’s joy.

And what about the elder son? Notice that he also badly needs a change of diet. For although, unlike his brother, he hasn’t gone far away. He too has been feeding on things that enslave him. On things that leave him malnourished. Why else is he unable to join the party? Why else can he not share in the joy? And why else does he speak to his father with such venom? Look, all these years I have slaved for you… All these years... the elder son has considered himself no more than an oppressed labourer. And his father his oppressor. All these years... he has been feeding on the bitter herbs of anger and resentment. Poisonous foods that have stunted his growth.

So that when his father comes out to beg him to join the party, the old man is really inviting him to change his diet. To exchange slavery for sonship. Jealousy and resentment for joy. And this invitation to the older son in the parable is, in reality, addressed to the Pharisees and scribes. For they are the ones unable to rejoice when sinners return to God. Pious and religious though they may appear to be, they have really been eating all the wrong kinds of food. A diet that makes them allergic even to joy.

But perhaps we should not be too quick to point fingers at them. At least, I know that I should not. For I’m painfully aware that there is, hidden also in me, a scribe and a Pharisee. There are ways in which I often find myself eating the wrong foods. Preferring to feed on anger and resentment. On jealousy and envy. Instead of on the mercy and compassion offered by the Lord. And whenever this happens, I fail to realise and to receive the great gift that God offers us in Christ Jesus.

The gift about which the second reading speaks so movingly. When it tells us that God in Christ was reconciling the world to himself, not holding men’s faults against them, and he has entrusted to us the news that they are reconciled. This, my dear friends, is the cause of our joy. This is the precious reconciliation won for us by Christ on the Cross. This is what we are preparing in Lent to receive at Easter. The satisfaction of home-coming. The joy that is our privilege not just to receive. But also to proclaim and to share with others. For we are ambassadors for Christ; it is as though God were appealing through us, and the appeal that we make in Christ’s name is: be reconciled to God. Enter into the Father’s house. Feed on the Father’s food. Share in the Father’s joy.

This, my dear friends, is the call addressed to us today. On this 4th Sunday of Lent. Which we call Laetare (Rejoice!) Sunday.

Sisters and brothers, if it is indeed true that we are what we eat, then what must you eat? In what ways do you need to change your diet? In order to enter the Father's joy today?