HomeCommentaryBALIK-TANAW: Rejoice!


The 4th Sunday of Lent is called Laetare Sunday. A Latin word which means rejoice! At the beginning of the Mass, its entrance antiphon acclaims “Rejoice, Jerusalem, and all who love her. Be joyful!”

This Sunday celebration brings us hope with anticipation, the great joy of the resurrection… which urges us to enter more deeply into the mystery of God’s love and mercy… ”For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life.”(John 3:16)

The First reading reminds us of God’s mercy when Cyrus, King of Persia became the instrument of salvation for God’s chosen people who were exiled in Babylon. The Psalm remembers the tragedy of the exile in Babylon as it evokes sentiments of joy and hope for salvation. In the Second Reading, Paul tells us that God is rich in mercy, and His great love brought us salvation as a gift (taken from the Word in other words).

Yet, are we supposed to rejoice and be joyful in the middle of these alarming socio-economic-political-religious-cultural and ecological realities? How can we be hopeful without being repentant in this penitential season? How can we be so undisturbed knowing the reality of bad self-serving governance, corruption, deterioration of defense for human life-human dignity, the weaponization of law through NTF-ELCAC, global ecological injustice, climate emergencies, the widening gap of economic inequality, deceptive and rigged elections in 2022, social unrest, and now the most celebrated issue on Charter Change, and its deeper dangers and impacts to Filipino people? How can we rejoice?

In the face of life-changing situations, we cannot deny seeing through the pains, darkness, and marginalization of the poor. Indeed, “a blasphemy, in many other forms in our daily lives, neglecting abused of women/ children, the poor and the homeless, and the victims of ‘extra-judicial killings’ (Bishop David). Likewise, matter of fact, these are becoming ordinary and repeated realities, so extraordinary in the silence and indifference of many. Are we becoming numbed and callous?

Where are the suffering poor in all these… “grinding poverty, lack of opportunities, rising debt, typhoons and floods, horrendous traffic, pollution, mining, dams, fossil fuels, low wages, dwindling purchasing power, attacks on human rights defenders, red tagging…these are concerns that need the most urgent attention by our leaders.”(CMSP Statement on Cha-Cha, Feb1, 2024)

Reflecting on these tragedies and the impact they imprint on the very lives of the poor, we struggle to find meaning and significance of the “light”. His presence in the dark… His Word that heals… His teachings astounded every heart… His mercy opens more possibilities…His forgiveness for those who beg for pardon … His life profoundly puts us in great awe and submission in obedience. Darkness and light…light and darkness, one and the same for God. He is the light, the bringer of hope. Are we to despair, stumble, and fall in the dark? Rather, journey with joy and hope amidst hopelessness and the hopeless… the most vulnerable of society, the lost, the least, and the last…the nameless and the faceless! He is the divine Light! He has come to bring the sparks…to lighten our darkness…He is with us, here and now… not recognized… not welcome …He is unaccepted… His truth can never be denied…Evils mocked Him… put Him to the test… nailed Him to death upon the Cross…Yet, rose triumphant to proclaim the greatest love the world has ever known.

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“But whoever lives according to the truth, comes into the light, so that it can be clearly seen that his works have been done in God.”(John 3:21). The gospel brings us to the truth that the Son of Man must also be lifted up to bring salvation. How God so loved His people, the world and all it contains. Even the truth of the good and the bad; those who exposed their good deeds and those of the wicked…The truth continues to proclaim the love of God…that “the very reason why God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, into the world is to save the world…LOVE is the very energy that keeps the entire salvific process moving. God’s love saves us. As followers of Jesus, we are called to become God’s instruments of salvation in our world today and it is God’s love that will enable us to participate in God’s salvific act.”(Bible Diary, 2024) Thus, more than enough reason for us to rejoice… be joyful…be hopeful!

As we move nearest to the middle of the Lenten season, we look for models who can lead us to fit into the character of a true follower and disciple of Christ…those who can lead us to fully experience the joy of God’s love and mercy…remembering and celebrating names and persons who shared the best of their lives to free our lands, to risk and even shed blood and tears to work along to the path of freedom…of the likes of women and men who totally engaged…stood their grounds to fight for freedom, truth, and life! Women who “dance for rights, for dignity, for life, for justice, for creation, for peace!”(Ecumenical celebration of International Women’s Day 2024)…women who vowed to stand hand-in-hand, committed to breaking the chains of oppression and dismantling the perpetual cycle of inequality, injustice, and tyranny…women of faith committed to continue to unite, and act in solidarity, embracing collective energy to achieve liberation, ensuring that every voice, every cry, every plea is heard, every life is valued and dignity upheld. Is this not the synodal Church we aspire to have and to become…to be in communion, in participation and mission? The Church of the Poor: our Basic Ecclesial Communities, our Basic Human Communities, and furthermore, our Basic Ecological Communities! The Light has come…let us be in solidarity with this flame of fire!

We are rejoicing with people brought to us by the Lord to experience His love and mercy. We rejoice this Laetare Sunday as a beautiful celebration of our faith in God’s love and mercy. We rejoice in God’s loving mercy and compassion. REJOICE!

Gospel reflection of Sr. Ma. Liza H. Ruedas, DC for the Fourth Sunday of Lent, 2Chronicle 36:14-16, 19-23 Ps 137:1-2,3, 4-5,6 Ephesians 2:4-10 John 3:14-21

Balik-Tanaw is a group blog of the Promotion of Church People’s Response (PCPR). The Lectionary Gospel reflection is an invitation for meditation, contemplation, and action.

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