The art of living well involves learning to recognize and move with the cycles of the human experience. In a very fundamental way, not every day can be a good day. We cannot avoid suffering and those who are constantly trying to maximize pleasure soon become tyrants who are a slave to their personal preferences.
The key to living well is learning to recognize that the cycles of consolation and desolation cannot be avoided. Instead of always trying to maintain our ideals of comfort and pleasure, we must learn to accept our suffering and bring it to the Lord with complete abandonment. In this way, happiness becomes a deeper reality that is not tied to the passing landscape of our interior life, but comes from a deep reservoir of faith, hope, and love.
This Sunday, the Church invites us to hold in tension the fasting and discipline of Lent and the power and glory of the Resurrection. By wearing Rose vestments, the Church invites us to embrace joy in the midst of Lenten sacrifice, and in a dramatic way the Church teaches us this inner reality of fasting and feasting, of suffering and beauty. This is the science of the saints in which one is able to discover Christ’s presence in every circumstance.
And what is the key to this exciting paradox, this festivity of opposites? In our Gospel, we see that mercy, forgiveness, and the rest of unconditional love is the key which unlocks the beauty of today’s celebration. The Father in the parable is able to embrace his son, and all of humanity, in the midst of the pain and confusion of sin and to heal the division which plagues the heart. Thus, the extravagant banquet of the Father is a foreshadowing of the celestial beauty of the Eucharistic encounter, that moment in which wounded humanity is brought into the sublime glory of heaven.
Today, let us embrace our human experience with a renewed sense of wonder and awe. Let us be joyful with boundless zeal and let us embrace suffering with dedication, patience, and the confidence which comes from the Holy Spirit. Let us dare to live the beautiful lives of saints, to be transfigured by the glory of God.
This Sunday’s readings can be found at http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/030616-fourth-sunday-lent.cfm