I noted with delight that there’s a bit of ‘hastening’ going on this week, as we gather to celebrate the Fourth Sunday of Lent.
Kind of shocking, isn’t it: Can it be the Fourth Sunday already? And as if on cue, we see the rose-colored vestments of Laetare Sunday…to provide a visual jolt, indicating that our holy season of renewal is proceeding apace.
Blink…and we’re going to miss it – the last couple weeks of our annual chance to make the most of those Lenten resolutions. (How’s that working out for you…???)
Even the Collect – the opening prayer of Mass – emphasizes the need for speed:
O God, who through your Word reconcile the human race to yourself in a wonderful way, grant, we pray, that with prompt devotion and eager faith, the Christian people may hasten toward the solemn celebrations to come…
I must confess, I’m a little fuzzy about what ‘prompt devotion’ might mean: Getting to Mass on time? But I love the phrase following fast behind: that ‘the Christian people may hasten toward the solemn celebrations to come…
We’re in a footrace to Easter, it would appear. And the cool thing is, it’s a contest we’re bound to lose. That much, Sunday’s Gospel reading makes clear. It’s from Luke 15 – the story of the Prodigal Son.
The passage is packed with fascinating details – including fancy robes that might well give the celebrant’s rose vestments a run for their money.
But to me, the best nugget of Good News comes right in the middle of the story, when the wayward son is making his way back home.
So he got up and went back to his father.
While he was still a long way off,
his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion.
He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.
It’s a remarkable thing that Jesus reveals about the forgiving Father here: He’s eager to hasten, not chasten.
And God makes the same offer, through the blood of the Lamb, to each one of us. We can speed toward the finish line of Lent all we want…but God’s still going to beat us there – so deeply does the Holy One desire our hearts.
And once the mad-dash toward reconciliation is complete, that’s when the real celebration begins.
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.