First reading: 2 Chronicles 36:14-16, 19-23.
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 136(137).
Second reading: Ephesians 2:4-10.
Gospel: John 3:14-21.
Link to readings.
The readings for this ‘Laetare (‘Rejoice’) Sunday’ reveal the Lord’s desire to save his people.
In the First Reading, the exile of the people, and later their release through the pagan king Cyrus, are understood in terms of God’s judgment and mercy.
Today’s Psalm speaks of the desolation that is experienced when the Lord’s goodness is no longer felt. In exile, the people could not be joyful.They could recall the presence of the Lord, but only with regret at its apparent loss.
The gift of the Lord’s presence is given, ultimately, through God’s loving gift of his Son to the world (Gospel). God loved us so much that he has led us back from the exile of sin, and in bringing us to life in Christ, he has made us a ‘work of art’. Jesus is the means by which we are saved, so that we might live ‘the good life’ of grace in return (Second Reading).
Let’s pray, this week, for a greater awareness of the Lord’s wonderful gift, full of grace, that frees us from the darkness of exile to the light of joyful living.
Ephesians 2: 4–10
I prepare myself for this time of prayer with care and attention. I note how I am feeling. I think back over my day.
Are there any concerns and worries I carry? Or am I joyful and grateful?
Perhaps I have some sense of what I truly need.
I ask the Lord for the gift of this grace: I can be confident because I know the Lord is ‘generous with his mercy’.
Then I enter into prayer slowly.
I settle and become aware of the close presence of the Lord. If I do not feel it, I simply trust that it is there.
I read the text gently, savouring these lovely expressions of the Lord’s nature … his generosity, his goodness, his grace toward me.
I may be able to recall times in my life when I have sensed this.
God has brought me to life; given me a place with him in heaven … I am God’s work of art. I have done nothing to earn this.
It is all pure gift, given through grace.
How do I feel now, as I ponder this?
Grateful … ? free … ? perhaps wishing to respond …?
I speak with the Lord about what he has done for me and about how he looks upon me.
I think about ways I might like to live by way of response. When ready, I end with a slow sign of the cross.
John 3: 14-21
I read the Gospel prayerfully.
I pay attention to where I am drawn, trusting in the power of the Holy Spirit.
I could pray this Gospel scene by imagining that, like Nicodemus, I approach Jesus in the darkness of night.
How does it feel to sit with him? What am I looking for?
And how does Jesus appreciate my being with him, my seeking him out?
In the scene, Jesus is alluding to the salvation he will accomplish through his Passion ... that ‘generous mercy’ of the Second Reading.
And all of this because God loves the world, because God loves me … What is it like to be the recipient of this wonderful free gift?
Jesus also speaks of light and darkness.
He desires us to live in the light … perhaps, too, that we reveal the dark places within ourselves so he can heal us.
How would I like to respond to him?
What can I do this week to ensure I am trying to live by that light?
Trusting in his goodness, I end my prayer by asking the Lord to help me live my life for his greater glory.
Our Father …
Prepared by St Beuno’s Outreach in the Diocese of Wrexham