14 March 2010

Laetare Sunday!

It may seem a bit odd to think of this "Rejoice Jerusalem" Sunday as a day when we hear the Gospel about the Prodigal Son -- or the merciful Father -- depending upon how we approach the reading. We can think of few better reasons to rejoice, however, than a retelling of the Lord's mercy for those who return to Him with hearts that have been softened by compunction.

There is a big difference between dejection and compunction. Perhaps the most significant difference is that the heart which has been pierced by compunction is aware of its great need for mercy and is deeply grateful for the Lord's compassion. There is an abiding peace in a heart softened by compunction. A heart beset by dejection, however, is often anxious and inconsolable -- even by the most tender acts of compassion.

As we take a break from our Lenten violet and enjoy the radiant rose vestments and fleeting-floral additions to the bare altar, let us be aware of those in our midst who are unable to "rejoice" freely in the Lord's mercy. Perhaps we may know someone at work or at school who is in need of a special kindness to help soften his heart. Maybe we have a family member whose troubles and challenges have contributed to a growing feeling of dejection. Let us look for opportunities to show kindness and mercy to those who hearts are hardened by hidden trials or difficult circumstances. We can pray that our effort to imitate the Lord's mercy may stir in our neighbor's heart a desire to seek -- and to find -- the Lord.

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