Rejoice, O Jerusalem! O Virgin Mary!

ICRSS Laetare SundayWithin His great Divine (and liturgical) Providence, our Lord has aligned the Great Feast of the Annunciation to be our precursor for this joyful Sunday of the Holy season of Lent. How fitting that the first of the Joyful mysteries be celebrated on the heals of Laetare Sunday, for today the Church exhorts us to “Rejoice” Why? Is it not strange that the Holy Annunciation which almost always falls during lent and “Rejoice!” Sunday are placed in the middle of a season of penance and sorrow? Strange perhaps, but most fitting!

Nativity IconIn some ancient calendars the Feast of the Annunciation is called Initium Redemptionis Conceptio Christi or The Beginning of Redemption by the Conception of Christ. This is why it is so fitting! The holy icon of the Nativity reminds us that Christ became man to die for man for we see his wrapped in swaddling bands, laid in a tomb like cave. One cannot separate the glorious redemptive action of Christ in his sorrowful death from the utter joy of His incarnation. It is only thus that we can call the deeds of our first parents a “happy fault (Augustine, Enchiridion, viii)”.

Rejoice, O Jerusalem! (Is 66: 10; Introit: Laetare Sunday)

I have said that we are called to rejoice today, yet it is Jerusalem that is commanded to rejoice. Since the foundation of the Church and most notably in the “City of God” by St. Augustine, Jerusalem has been the archetype of the Church. It is the people of God who are Jerusalem. At the same time, Our Lady is too the redeemed Jerusalem like she is the New Eve. The blessed apostle Paul proclaims in his epistle today “Jerusalem which is above is free, which is our mother (Gl 4:26)”. He goes on: “For many are the children of the desolate, more than of her that hath a husband (Gl 4:26, Is 54:1)”. While our Lady did bear the God-man and was indeed married, her womb was not spurn and her marriage was that of two perpetual virgins. She represents a New Sarah, the wife of Abraham.

Come together all you that love her. (Is 66:10, Introit: Laetare Sunday)

Her progeny expanding the line of Abraham are as numerous “as the stars of heaven, and as the sand that is by the sea shore (Gn 22:17)”. It was on the cross that our crucified Savior left all who believed in Him an inheritance “full of grace (Lk 1:28)”. and a mediatrix in His mother for we were given her as our own. “Woman behold your son. Man behold your mother (Jn 19:26)”. In that consummate moment of His salvific triumph, we were left not only with a mother but with His very Self. This the body, blood, soul, and divinity of God’s dearly beloved Son. This is the communion to which every disciple is called to partake (Jn 6:53). He is the Most Holy Sacrament.”Come together all you that love her (Is 66:10)”. We who love the Church indeed come together in a communion of thanksgiving, a Eucharist (1 Cr 1:16,17). We are in communion with each other because we are in unity with the head who is Christ, Our Lord (Cl 1:19).

Mary and John Cross Stained Glass

For thither did the tribes go up. (Ps 122:4; Communion: Laetare Sunday)
The Holy Gospel of John presents to us today the miracle on the mount where Christ feeds the five thousand. Christ the Good Shepherd leads the people to a green pasture where He make them “sit down (Jn 6:10; Ps 23:2)” in pastures green where He feeds His sheep. So too are we are fed by Christ, but now by His very body and blood. John says in the gospel, “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 (Jn 6:13)”. Christ here prefigures filling the tribes of Israel. How? In His promise to be with us “all days, even to the consummation of the world (Mt 28:20)” Christ has given a bread that will never run out so long a priest of Jesus Christ in the order of Melchizedek walk this earth. And it is threw Holy Mother Church that this Tantum Sacramentum, this so great a Sacrament, is dispensed. For the keys were given to Peter and to Peter, upon asking him if he love Him, did Christ say, “Feed my sheep (Jn 21:17)”.
Feeding Five Thousand
 The festival day of the Jews was near at hand. (Jn 6:4, Gospel: Laetare Sunday)
How wondrous is it that upon the feast of the Passover, Christ fills the twelve baskets, the symbolic number of prosperity and overabundance, and that on the same feast of the Passover years later He left us the Bread of Life which “shall become in him a fountain of water, springing up into life everlasting (Jn 4:14)”. We know this to foreshadow His passion for the gospel passage concludes with Jesus withdrawn to the mountain alone like at the garden of Gethsemane “when He knew that they would come to take Him by force and make Him king (Jn 6:15)”. On that most Good Friday the guards crowned our Lord with thorn “And bowing the knee before him, they mocked him, saying: Hail, king of the Jews (Mt 27:29)”. “And Pilate wrote a title also, and he put it upon the cross. And the writing was: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS (Jn 19:19)”.crucifixion-scene.jpg
 Hail Mary full of grace.
(Lk 1:28, Gospel: Feast of The Annunciation)
Annunciation GentileschiWhile our Lord was mocked with the guard’s royal salutation, our Lady was not with her angelic salutation. In that moment when she replied to the angelic messenger with a fiat, the Word of God was made flesh. The incarnation of the Godhead was manifested in the womb of the Virgin at the Annunciation. Until the end of time the Word of God will be eternally incarnated in the Most Holy Sacrament which was left for us at the passion of Our Lord. It is through this act that He opens the Gates of Heaven to all believers. And so while Our Lady of the Annunciation is the Mother of Sorrows, she is all the more the Cause of Our Joy, she who is Our Lady of the Eucharist and the Virgin Daughter of Zion is indeed the Ark of the New Covenant, of the New and Eternal Jerusalem. She is the Gate of Heaven.
Rejoice, O Jerusalem!
I rejoiced at the things that were said to me: We shall go into the house of the Lord.
(Is 66: 10; Ps 121:1; Introit: Laetare Sunday)
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