|Fourth Sunday of Lent, called “Lætare”
By the Introit of the Mass the Church reminds us of the joys of heaven, to encourage us to persevering zeal in penance and fasting, and to patience under persecution, crosses, and sorrows.
The Introit of the Mass begins with the word lætare (rejoice), from which the Sunday derives its name: “Rejoice, O Jerusalem, and come together, all you that love her. Rejoice with joy, you that habe been in sorrow, that you may exult and be filled from the breasts of your consolation. I was glad at the things that were said unto me: we shall go into the house of the Lord.”
he Epistle of St. Paul to the Galatians, iv. 22-31. Brethren: It is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, and the other by a free woman: but he who was of the bondwoman, was born according to the flesh: but he of the free woman, was by promise: which things are said by an allegory: for these are the two testaments. The one from Mount Sina engendering unto bondage: which is Agar: for Sina is a mountain in Arabia, which hath affinity to that Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. But that Jerusalem which is above is free, which is our mother. For it is written: Rejoice thou barren, that bearest not: break forth and cry, thou that travailest not; for many are the children of the desolate, more than of her that hath a husband. Now, we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. But as then he, that was born according to the flesh, persecuted him that was after the spirit: so also it is now. But what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son; for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the free woman. So then, brethren, we are not the children of the bondwoman, but of the free: by the freedom wherewith Christ has made us free.
The Jews, typified by Agar, served God like servants, from fear of punishment and in hope of rewards. Christians, typified by Sara, lift up their hands to Him as their Father, and if they fulfil His will faithfully will become partakers of His glory in heaven.
O Jesus, grant that by fasting, prayer, and patience under persecution I may partake in Thy sufferings, and be found worthy of Thy divine promises and Thy eternal consolations in the heavenly Jerusalem. Amen.
he Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ, According to St. John, vi. 1-15. At that time: Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is that of Tiberias: and a great multitude followed Him, because they saw the miracles which He did on them that were diseased. Jesus therefore went up into a mountain: and there He sat with his disciples. Now the pasch, the festival day of the Jews, was near at hand. When Jesus therefore had lifted up His eyes, and seen that a very great multitude cometh to Him, he said to Philip: Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? And this He said to try him, for He Himself knew what He would do. Philip answered Him: Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one may take a little. One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, saith to Him: There is a boy here that hath five barley loaves, and two fishes: but what are these among so many? Then Jesus said: Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. The men therefore sat down, in number about five thousand. And Jesus took the loaves; and when He had given thanks, He distributed to them that were set down: in like manner also of the fishes, as much as they would. And when they were filled, He said to his disciples: Gather up the fragments that remain, lest they be lost. They gathered up therefore, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above to them that had eaten. Now those men, when they had seen what a miracle Jesus had done, said: This is of a truth the prophet, that is to come into the world. Jesus therefore, when He knew that they would come to take Him by force, and make Him king, fled again into the mountain Himself alone.
Why did Christ thus try St. Philip?
1. To try his faith and confidence. 2. To teach us to make use of natural and ordinary means before we have recourse to the supernatural. 3. So that the miracle would be the more striking to the people, when they were satisfied that the provisions they had were quite small and insufficient. 4. That we might have confidence in God, Who is a helper in time of tribulation (Ps. ix. 10).
What ceremonies did Our Saviour use at this miracle, and why?
He first looked up to heaven, to remind us that every good gift comes from above, and that it is God only Who opens His hand, and fills all with benediction. 2. He thanked His heavenly Father, to show us that we also should be careful to thank God for all His benefits, The table, says St. Chrysostom, which begins and ends with prayer shall never know want. 3. He blessed the bread that we might learn that it is the blessing of God which gives success.
Why did Jesus flee after this miracle?
1. To teach us to seek not the admiration and applause of men, but only the glory of God and the good of our neighbor. 2. To love solitude; that, far from the noise of the world we may with more freedom converse with God.