4th Sunday of Lent (Cycle C)

Scripture Reflection for the 4th Sunday of Lent

by Angie Ledbetter

Reading I: Joshua 5:9a, 10-12
Reading II: 2 Corinthians 5:17-21
GOSPEL: Luke 15:1-3, 11-32

Life Is a Puzzle and the Pieces Don’t Always Fit

Today’s readings don’t seem to fit together at all. Life sometimes feels like that too. But if we pause to ponder and see the connectedness of things and events, we’ll just as often see a beautiful tapestry of interwoven threads.

Do We Take Credit Where Credit Isn’t Due?

In the first reading, Joshua tells of the Passover celebration that took place among a new generation of Israelites. After leaving Egypt, the previous Israelites had to wander aimlessly for years in the desert, depending on God’s mercy and His manna for survival. Those born during the journey finally made it to the land of Canaan, where God and the land’s providence gave them food for the feast.

It must have been a mixed feeling of jubilation and fear for them to realize they no longer had to depend on heavenly manna to survive. Surely they saw God’s goodness after such a long trip through the harsh desert. Or were they like us modern wanderers – full of self-satisfaction at all “we” provide ourselves and the freedom from fear we’ve “earned” since we don’t have to face famine and hardship? Hopefully, we will take the lessons of our ancestors to heart and never forget Who provides everything to us!

We Need to Reconcile with God and Others

Paul’s letter to the Corinthians reminds us in the second reading that Christ died for us all. Thus we learn from Him not to live for ourselves, but for others. Like the first reading, we see that living for our own desires is not the road to happiness. Instead, we must be like Jesus, and die to ourselves before we can become new beings in Him.

Again, God provides us the means to accomplish this goal. The key is found in the simplest of prayers – “The Lord’s Prayer” – which tells us to forgive others their sins as our Father forgives us. To be truly free like those happy Israelites, we must be reconciled with God and one another. Only then are we new creatures, ready to be the Face of Jesus to our brothers and sisters.

Don’t Begrudge Others; Be Thankful

So often we judge others as unworthy of respect and of our companionship. But Jesus did the opposite by dining with “tax collectors and sinners,” both of whom were not exactly great examples of righteousness. Luke’s retelling of this event gives us food for thought, and Jesus’ sharing of the Parable of the Prodigal Son with those who persecuted Him for befriending the lowly is one of His most awesome messages.

Like the older son who is jealous of his younger brother’s homecoming after a long absence, we are often unkind and judgmental to those whom we deem less worthy than ourselves. We begrudge the “lost” and “sinful” because they get special treatment and concern when we seem to get nothing extra for being good.

We should rejoice that we have not drifted from our good spiritual courses as frequently. Remember that we need forgiveness many times during our lives, too. The only perfect human is the One who dined with the “unworthy” among us.

Today we are blessed with good pointers on how to live like Christians. To further our own Lenten desert journeys, we can taste and see the goodness of the Lord in all that He gives us. We can die more to ourselves in order to live more fully for others. And we can search for the lost so that we may help them come home to the Father for Easter.


 

Life Applications:

Take stock today of all the bounty God provides for us and be thankful.
Reflect on the Lord’s Prayer and try to live it more fully. Let go of old grudges.
Are there people you neglect to “dine” with? Can you make an effort to include them?


 

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