Fr. Enrico Parry
Laetare Sunday today, the fourth in a six Sunday Lent, with the message, “it’s almost over, take a breather.” Pink the colour or whatever term the liturgists will correct us with. Be lighter. Be kinder. Especially on yourselves. We know this message, this kind of Sunday, like the one in Advent.
The name comes from the entrance antiphon of mass today. It is packed with meaning, this one sentence verse that gives the mass its feel. Deeply poetic as is characteristic with Isaiah. In the 66th chapter of that book, from a third generation of disciples of the original prophet.
Look at the words calling up to rejoicing.
Laetare – rejoice
Gaudete cum laetitia – rejoice with joy
Exultetis – rejoice
Satiemini – be satisfied.
It is almost as if they searched the whole language trying to find the best description of the joy which is to be theirs, eventually settling on the image of a child at breast. The picture of perfect contentment. No wonder some call today Mothering Sunday. Elsewhere in the psalms it says, “like a child has rest in its mother’s arms, even so, my soul” (Ps. 131:2).
That is the rejoicing we are called to. Not the kind that only scratches the surface via cheap imitations, by which we imagine that we are now blessed. No, this is real, deep going.
Remember, the prophet speaks these words to a people steeped in recent sadness. They have been there, in the valley of death and beyond. They have seen it all. Often they prayed: “How long, o Lord?”
Bleak as the outlook may be here in the desert of our sinfulness, overwhelmed by the heartlessness of our relating to each other, hungry and thirsty as we have become, we dare to hope for the joy of contentment at the breast of God, our mother.
Go on, rejoice.