Her Doctrine and Morals

Fourth Sunday in Lent

6 March 2016


The Sunday


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Dear Friend,

We have passed the half-way mark in our Lenten season of penance. Our Holy Mother the Church would not have us continually sad during this time, so She reminds us that even in the midst of penance we are to have a cheerful heart. The violet color is set aside and rose is used in its place today.

The joy and celebration of today are not a ceasing of our penances and mortifications, but are rather a reminder to find peace and happiness even in the midst of suffering. As we bear the burden of our crosses, our human nature groans under the weight and is often tempted not only to sadness, but to even melancholy and despair. Today is a gentle reminder, not to let this happen, but to look forward to the rewards that await us if we successfully perform our Lenten duties.

We are not children of the slave girl, but through our baptism we are children of the free woman. We have been made free in Jesus Christ. We are not slaves, but rather children of God. The child and the slave both serve, but the child serves the father, out of love, rather than out of fear. All too often, we obey God with a servile (servant) fear, rather than with a filial (son) fear. Our Lenten works need to be focused upon serving God or making an offering to God, as do His faithful children. We should avoid serving God as servants out of fear. The servant also tries to do as little as possible, or just enough to get by. The son, however, strives to go above and beyond in his service to his father, because he is motivated by love. This is what we have been called to do. The Israelites of the Old Testament served God as servants/slaves. Catholics of the New Testament are children of God, and should serve Him with love and reverence.

In today's Gospel, we see that the people followed Jesus out into the desert, to hear the Words of God. Separated from the material things and any care or solicitude for material things, the people were free to hear Jesus speak, and fill their hearts and minds with His grace. We, also, have begun a spiritual journey this Lent. We have spiritually separated ourselves from the material things, or at least from the care and solicitude for material things. It is sometimes a very painful separation, but it is a necessary separation if we are to be found worthy of receiving the Word of God. As long as our hearts and minds are filled with the cares of the body, we have no room for God and His Word.

Care and solicitude for the things of this earth become habitual with us, and it is never easy to break habits. God is calling us during this Lenten season to step away from these for a short while. He is showing us the good things that await us if we will only make the sacrifice. Too often, we form the desire for the wonderful things that God holds out for us, but the habit of clinging to the things of this earth pulls us back. The Catholic Church, in Her, loving mercy, gives us a foretaste today of the joys that awaits us, so that we may be strengthened with a renewed resolve to faithfully follow Christ to the end of this penitential season — and to the end of our lives here on earth.

We need not fear anything. God will provide for us. In the Gospel today, we see that Jesus not only fed the people with His teachings, but He also fed their bodies. He provided, not just enough, but a superabundant amount of food. All those who followed Him and left everything behind, were not found to be wanting in anything. They were filled with nourishing food provided by God; but more importantly, their souls were nourished with the Word of God.

In the Church, we do not see the multiplication of food for the body, but rather we see the multiplication of the Heavenly Food for our Souls. Jesus Christ becomes our food. He multiplies Himself, so that we need not go away without Him. In the Holy Eucharist, He is really and truly present — True God and True Man — the Living God. In this manner, we may approach Him, and find all the nourishment that we need for both body and soul. We know that we must fast and abstain in preparation for receiving Him, but this mortification is not seen as a pain or a burden, but is welcomed with joy. Or rather, like the multitude in today's Gospel, we do not even think of or consider the wants or needs of the body, as we focus all our attention upon the glories of God.

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