The Lord is Risen! We have died with the Lord and have been raised with him. Let us live as people bound for glory.
We have listened to the proclamation of several readings from the Old Testament, as well as the New Testament Epistle and the climactic reading of the Lord's Resurrection in the Gospel. In light of this Good News, may we live always as people of the Resurrection, people of hope and joy.
Why do we venerate the cross of Christ? only because we know that this is not the end. No, we believe that everything -- especially the death of Jesus Christ on the cross -- ends in glory. Knowing how all of this ends gives us the ability to 'celebrate' the death of Christ for our salvation.
Today more than ever, we must keep our eyes fixed on Christ. As we walk with him the Way of the Cross and then celebrate his Resurrection, we must remember that he is always with us. Even when things look bad for us we have to remember: This ends in glory for those who follow the Lord.
As we begin the great liturgy of the Paschal Mystery, we hear a lot of detailed instructions from our God. God commands the Israelites to celebrate the Passover meal in a very specific way. St. Paul teaches us what was handed on to him -- namely, how Jesus Christ celebrated the Last Supper and commanded us to "do this in memory" of him. In the Gospel, St. John relates what happened during that meal, when Jesus washed the feet of his disciples and said to them, "What I have done for you, you must do for one another." We would all do well to hearken to the words of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who spoke before Jesus' first miracle at the Wedding at Cana: "Do whatever he tells you."
At this liturgy we ask God to bless the oil that will be used to anoint our brothers and sisters throughout the year. God uses something so ordinary and commonplace -- the fruit of the olive tree -- to do something extraordinary today. In the same way, God takes our ordinary lives and makes them extraordinary. Finally, today we celebrate and honor the priests who serve us; men whom God has set apart to celebrate the sacraments and preach the Word to the assembly. We thank God for the ordinary, commonplace things that are used to help us to experience God's presence and ministry among us.
The Gospel today gives us the account of the adulterous woman and Jesus. Whereas some of the religious leaders were using the woman to test Jesus, Jesus used her to show us God's mercy. Why is this Gospel passage given to us late in Lent? One reason might be that it points us toward the redemption that is ours in Jesus' passion and death. In his encounter with the woman who sinned, Jesus 'suspends her sentence'. He tells her that she is free to go. But who will atone for her sin? Jesus Christ. Next week we will focus especially on the cross of Christ, praising and thanking God for gift of redemption and atonement.
The Gospel for the 4th Sunday of Lent this year gives us the parable of the Prodigal Son. This story, coupled with the words of St. Paul from the second reading: "For our sake God made him to be sin who did not know sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him" (2 Cor 5:21), teach us God's plan for creation. God wishes that everyone be saved through His son Jesus Christ. Like the father in the parable, God rushes to meet us and heal us and forgive us when we have sinned or wandered away. He comes to us in Jesus Christ and in the Holy Spirit, and we receive His gift of salvation through the Church, the Body of Christ.