Homily for April 4, Monday of the IV week of Lent
Yesterday was the Sunday also known as Laetare Sunday, because the entrance antiphon begins with the word “Rejoice” (laetare, in Latin). It marks the approximate half-way point of Lent, and as we can see from today’s readings, it also begins a change of tone and theme in the daily readings. Especially today, the focus has shifted from the need for humility, penance, and conversion, to the promised fruits of the resurrection, as if to give us an extra motivational boost to help us finish Lent well.
The psalm can be seen as describing the joy of Jesus and the praise His disciples raised to God after the resurrection. The first reading speaks of the “new heavens and new earth” of the kingdom of heaven, the renewal of all creation that Jesus won for us and initiated when He rose from the dead. It will only be fully realized after Judgment day, but we get a foretaste of it now, when we receive the Risen Lord in the Eucharist, the food of everlasting life.
God also gives us a glimpse of this promised regeneration of the world through miracles of healing and life. We see an example of this in the Gospel reading, when Jesus raises a child from the dead. He performed many miracles like this to show His power over illness and death. Throughout the ministry of Christ and In the early Church, to help establish the divinity of Christ and the credibility of His promises, there was a special outpouring of miracles, such as has never been equalled. However, God has continued to work miracles throughout history by the intercession of the saints on earth and in heaven. For example, I personally know someone who was healed of Crohn’s disease through the intercession of Pope John Paul II. And just recently, a man with a paralyzed leg was healed at Lourdes, and then went on a 1,000 mile pilgrimage from France to the shrine of Santiago de Compostela in Spain.
Miracles are gifts from God, but we don’t need to make them a main focus of our spirituality. Suffering is inevitable in our life on earth, which, like Lent, is a time of preparation for something much bigger and greater. Miracles are only means to help us on our way. May we live this annual commemoration of the suffering, death, and resurrection of the Lord looking towards our own death and resurrection with Christ, and the eternal joy He promised us in a new heavens and a new earth. Then we truly will be able to say, with today’s psalm, “Sing praise to the Lord, you His faithful ones, and give thanks to His holy name!” He has “changed [our] mourning into dancing; O Lord, my God, forever I will give you thanks.”