4th Sunday of Lent—Laetare Sunday

   The readings for the fourth week of Lent remind us of how much God is committed to His covenants, how much He loves us, and what He will do to demonstrate that love to us. What does it mean to say God loves us, though? To understand what the Bible means by God’s love we must bear in mind that whereas the Greek language, (the language of the Bible from about 300 BCE), has three different words for three different types of love, English has only one. In Greek we have (1) eros meaning romantic love (like the love between a man and a woman that leads to marriage), (2) philia meaning fellowship love (like the love for basketball which brings fans together), and (3) agape or sacrificial love (like the love that makes a mother risk her own life for her yet unborn child).

In romantic love we long to receive, in fellowship love we long to give and take, in sacrificial love we long to give. This agape love is the love we see in today’s first two readings. This week we are not reminded of a new covenant God entered with His people.  Instead, we see how he honored previous covenants, even when His people did not. Time and again, the Israelites turned from God. He continued to show His love, though, – sending His prophets to remind His people of their part of the covenants, the promises, God made with them, but to no avail.

  “The people added infidelity to infidelity, practicing all abominations of the nations and polluting the Lord’s temple…  “ 2 Chr 14.

“Early and often did the Lord send His messengers to them, for He had compassion on His people and His dwelling place…” 2 Chr 15.

But God loves us with agape or sacrificial love. That is one big difference between God and us: God gives and forgives, we get and forget. Giving is a sign of agape. This is the kind of love God has for us. He sent His prophets “early and often” to call His people back to His covenant love.  They refused and were sent into exile, then the Lord draws them out to return and rebuild (2 Chr 36).  “Let my tongue be silenced, if I ever forget you!” we respond with Psalm 137, along with the exiles in Babylon. 

 The scripture readings remind us that God has been trying for thousands of years to get our attention.  Through messengers, miracles, healings, and proclamations, God has been trying to convince us that the love that is offered us is eternal, sufficient and a gift.  Do our Lenten actions reflect that?  Do our attitudes reflect what God has been trying to convince us of?  Has God gotten our attention yet?

Today we are invited to say yes to God’s love. It is sometimes hard to believe that God loves each of us, but He does because God loves unconditionally; no ifs, ands, or buts. Once we realize this, then we can love God back and enter into a love relationship with God. Then we shall learn to share God’s love with those around us. Then we shall learn to give to God and to one another.  We will be living the covenant, living the promises God has made with His people.

 

Happy Birthday, Fr. Socorro!

 You are a blessing to all of us at St. Valentine Parish! May our Lord continue to bless you.

3rd Sunday of Lent

In today’s first reading from Exodus God offers His people another covenant. This one is much more personal – the words are His words, carved into stone by His hand, and spoken to each one of us.  The covenant with Noah gave us hope after chaos.  The covenant with Abraham showed us the extent of God’s love.  Through Abraham and Isaac we saw how the father so loved God that he was willing to give his only son – a foreshadowing of the role Jesus would play many generations later.  Now, with the Ten Commandments we hear in Exodus 19:5, “I will bestow mercy down to the thousandth generation on the children of those who love me and keep my commandments – my covenant.”

 Is this new covenant a new set of restrictions?  They are, in fact, a part of a larger collection of laws known as the Covenant Code (Exodus 21-23).  But, in reality the Ten Commandments are all about love. John Parsons of Hebrew for Christians has summarized them this way:

1. “I am your only deliverer, the One who loves and chooses you;

2. Love me exclusively;

3. Regard my love as sacred;

4. Rest in me;

5. Honor your life and its history.  Do no harm to others:

6. Forsake anger,

7. Abandon lust,

8. Renounce greed, and

9. Abhor lying.

10. Refuse envy.

 

Know that you belong to me and that you are accepted.  Love others as you are also loved.

 In the Mosaic covenant, God swore eternal devotion to his people and they swore their devotion in return

 Consider what Jesus said, in the new covenant, about the greatest commandments – “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” and to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:36-40).  With this Mosaic covenant, God shows us His love and outlines how we can show Him ours.

 Have we thought about the Ten Commandments as a covenant of love?  Have we considered that they are, as we heard in today’s psalm, “the words of everlasting love?” The third week of Lent reminds us of yet, another covenant God made with His people.  This week, our meditation could center on looking at how we live our lives in the love expressed in the covenant made with Moses. 

Join us for Stations of the Cross at 7 pm in Church.

 

Confessions will be heard prior to Stations of the Cross from 6—7 pm in Church.

1st Sunday of Lent – God’s Covenant with Noah

Adam, in the Garden of Eden, lived a life without chaos and pain.  He did not know life without God.  All was good. It was a life of discovery and joy until Adam broke the covenant with God and disobeyed the one commandment God gave him- not to eat the fruit of the Tree of Life.  Life went downhill from there.  Adam’s sons, Cain and Able, fought resulting in one killing the other.  Adam’s family experienced pain, hunger, physical and mental hardships because he had broken the covenant. 

 Fast forward generations and Noah’s world was a continuation of the same pain and suffering.  For Noah, and those who followed God’s way, life had its blessings.  These followers were the minority, though; men and women had turned their backs to God and chose creature comforts instead of following God’s precepts.  God decided to punish the world and when the rains came, Noah and his family, who had followed God’s laws, watched as the earth disappeared.  For 40 days the people on the ark saw everything vanish.  But after the rains came new life.  To Noah life was salvation.  When God spoke to Noah and his family, he talked about His bond with all creation.  The covenant God made was with all living things – plants, animals, and Noah’s family.  And the sign of this covenant – the rainbow, tying earth to heaven – a token of God’s love.

How are you living the promise, the covenant God has made?  Are you adrift on the sea of life?  Are the rains still coming down?  The Church is like the ark, floating through the chaos, the storms of life.  Stay aboard and it will take you to safety.  As you listen to the readings this Sunday, search for God’s words to you.  This Sunday He is telling us that His plans are for us. The readings remind us To Live the Promise; Live the Covenant

 · 2nd Sunday of Lent – 2.28 – Covenant with Abraham

· Abraham is saved from killing his son and is promised that his descendants would be “as numerous as the stars.”

· 3rd Sunday of Lent – 3.7 – Covenant with Moses

· Israel is brought out of slavery in Egypt and receives the 10 Commandments.

· 4th Sunday in Lent – 3.14 – Called back to the covenant

· Israel loses sight of the covenant and God sends His prophets to them.

· 5th Sunday in Lent – 3.21 – Announcing the New Covenant

· Jeremiah tells Israel a new covenant is coming.


Friday, Stations of the Cross at 7 pm in the church. If you would like to lead the Stations of the Cross, please see the sign up sheet in the back of the church.