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THE FOURTH SUNDAY OF LENT

 

 

First Reading: Joshua 5:9, 10-12
A reading from the book of the prophet Joshua.

YHWH said to Joshua, “Today I rolled away from you the reproach of Egypt.”

During their encampment at Gilgal, the Children of Israel offered the Passover sacrifice at sunset on the fourteenth day of the month on the plains of Jericho. On the day after the Passover they ate the produce
of the land, unleavened cakes and roasted grain. On that same day, after the Passover on which they ate of the unleavened cakes
and roasted grain, the manna stopped falling for the Children of Israel. They ate the crops of Canaan from that year on.

The Word of God. R. Thanks be to God!

 

 

Responsorial Psalm: 34  Adapted from Nan Merrill
Response: Amen. Truly I say to you, gather in my name, I am with you. (X2) https://youtu.be/2mTVGj0jVRY

I will bless the Beloved at all times; A  song of praise will I sing.   My soul speaks to the beloved continually; let all who suffer hear and be glad.              O, open your hearts friends, that your pain and loneliness be turned to Love; And then we shall rejoice in the Beloved together.

Response: Amen. Truly I say to you, gather in my name, I am with you. (X2)

When I searched for love, the Beloved answered within my heart, and all my fears flew away.  Look to the beloved and your emptiness will be filled, your face will radiate love. For when you weep, the Beloved hears and comes to companion you;  your burdens are eased by Love.

Response: Amen. Truly I say to you, gather in my name, I am with you. (X2)

The Beloved is patient, ever waiting for us to cry out for forgiveness. To embrace Love’s way. The Beloved weeps with compassion over those who are crushed in spirit. The Beloved is ever ready to comfort us in our sorrows, to strengthen us on our soul’s journey to wholeness. The Beloved renews the life of all who surrender to Love.

 Response: Amen. Truly I say to you, gather in my name, I am with you. (X2)                                             

 

 

Second Reading: Transform Your Attitude  (A sharing by Christine Sine)

It is easy for all of us to create walls of fear. Fear that we will not have enough for our future, fear that someone else will invade our land and take what we have, fear that our world will change or that climate change will destroy the environment. Our fears may differ but we all struggle with fear.

More than anything we need to see fear transformed into trust. And trust in God opens new possibilities. One of our biggest struggles is trusting that just as God is working within us to unveil the divine image so God is working in the lives of those around us. Yes, even those of different race or faith or social strata, or sexual orientation. Make no mistake, all of us do need to be transformed and we shouldn’t seek to transform others until we have been transformed into the loving, caring, generous and forgiving person God intends us to be. Transformation is God’s business. The only person we can take responsibility for is ourselves.

When I visited St Catherine’s monastery in the Sinai desert, the oldest monastery in existence, I was astonished to find a mosque in the middle of it. Evidently Bedouin tribes would attack the monastery so Muslims, wanting to protect the Christians built a mosque in the monastery, making it into a sacred space. After the September 11th terrorism, Christians formed a circle of protection around our local mosque and prayed for their brothers and sisters of Muslim faith. The Muslims in return started holding an annual feast to which all were invited. Maybe it is time for Muslims and Christians to learn to protect each other again. Maybe it’s time for us to find new ways to gather together in hospitality rather than hostility and reach for understanding and acceptance rather than rejection and exclusion.

What if we transform the way we relate?   What if we consider our need to embrace rather than exclude. What if we replaced hostility with hospitality, criticism with concern, greed with generosity and consumption with stewardship? Jesus invites all of us to reach beyond our comfort zones and embrace those we have previously excluded.

I think that all people of faith should choose language that embraces, not excludes, reaching out with acceptance and love to those they disagree with. What if we resolved to only make comments that built up others and showed them love and acceptance? What if we left the transformation work up to God, and trusted in God to change people’s hearts and minds, not into the people we want them to be but into the people God wants them to be?

These are the inspired words of Christine Sine, writer for Godspace, and we affirm them by saying,  AMEN

 

 

Praise to You, Jesus Christ, who reigns in endless glory!

 

 

Gospel Reading: Luke 15:1-3, 11-32
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke.

NARRATOR: The tax collectors and the “sinners” were all gathering around Jesus to listen to his teaching, at which the Pharisees and the religious scholars murmured, “This person welcomes sinners and eats with them.” Then Jesus addressed this parable to them: “A man had two children. The younger of them said to their father:

FIRST SON: Give me my share of the estate.

NARRATOR: So the father divided up the property between them. Some days later, the younger son gathered up his belongings and
went off to a distant land. Here he squandered all his money on loose living. After everything was spent, a great famine broke over the land, and the son was in great need. So he went to a landowner, who sent him to a farm to take care of the pigs. He was so hungry that he could have eaten the husks
that were fodder for the pigs, but no one made a move to give him anything. Coming to his senses at last, he said:

FIRST SON: How many hired hands at my father’s house have more than enough to eat, while here I am starving! I will quit and go
back home and say, “I have sinned against God and against you; I no longer deserve to be called one of your children. Treat me like one
of your hired hands.”

NARRATOR: With that, the younger son set off for his home. While still a long way off, the father caught sight of the returning child
and was deeply moved. The father ran out to meet him, threw his arms around him, and kissed him. The son said to him:

FIRST SON: I have sinned against God and against you; I no longer deserve to be called one of your children.

NARRATOR: But his father said to one of the workers:

FATHER: Quick! Bring out the finest robe and put it him; put a ring on his finger and shoes on his feet. Take the calf we have been fattening
and butcher it. Let us eat and celebrate! This son of mine was dead and has come back to life. He was lost and now he is found.

NARRATOR: And the celebration began. Meanwhile the elder son had been out in the field. As he neared house, he heard the sound
of music and dancing. He called one of the workers and asked:

SECOND SON: What is happening?

NARRATOR: The worker answered, “Your brother is home, and the fatted calf has been killed because your father has him back safe
and sound.” The son got angry at this and refused to go in to the party, but his father came out and pleaded with him. He said in reply:

SECOND SON: Look! For years now I have done every single thing you asked me to do. I never disobeyed even one of your orders, yet
you never gave me so much as a kid goat to celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours comes home after going through your
money with prostitutes, you kill the fatted calf for him.

FATHER: But my child! You are with me always, and everything I have is yours. But we have to celebrate and rejoice! This brother of
yours was dead and has come back to life. He was lost and now he is found.

The Good News of Salvation! R. Glory and praise to our Savior Jesus Christ!

 

 

 

 

The readings from The Inclusive Bible are used with permission of the Quixote Center.  If you wish to purchase a copy of The Inclusive Bible please visit The Bible-The First Egalitarian Translation at: http://quixote.org/resources/publications#sthash.XXL9SA1G.dpuf