Our Collect this Sunday is: “Gracious Father, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ came down from heaven to be the true bread which gives life to the world: Evermore give us this bread, that He may live in us, and we in Him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.” (BCP 219)
The reading from the Old Testament is 2 Chronicles 36:14-23. This is describing the fall of Jerusalem and the Jews exile to Babylonia. For 70 years the people of God were in political exile. Several generations of Jews were raised in a Persian culture and the result was that the Jews became increasingly syncretistic meshing Babylonian cults with the ancient Jewish religion. After 70 years of being away from Jerusalem and from the Temple when they were finally allowed to come home they brought with them a “watered down” religion which was unfaithful to their covenant with God. It took generations to work through their infidelities and to be purified.
The epistle reading is Ephesians 2:4-10. Baptism is a spiritual birth from death to life. We are God’s “workmanship” each of us created as His child. From the day of our baptism we began a spiritual journey to unite us to our heavenly Father. “There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all. (Eph 4:5-6) “In union with Christ you are being built together with all the redeemed into a holy temple in the Lord where God lives through His Spirit.” (Eph 2:22)
The reading from the Holy Gospel is John 6:4-15 which is the story of the Feeding of the Five Thousand. It is one of several “feeding narratives” that foreshadow that Jesus will feed us with His Body and Blood through the Church’s sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. Jesus shows that when He gives, He gives all. A word to express this total self-giving love is “communion.”
God wants to teach us, instruct us, and inspire us. He wants to become one with us. He wants to embrace us in an everlasting love. His relationship with man is a story of ever-deepening communion. To live into our baptism is to open our life to grace and truth. We are to give our all to Jesus who “of His own freewill gave up all that He had, and took on the nature of a servant. He became Man. He humbled Himself and walked the path of obedience, all the way to death, His death on the Cross.” (Phil 2:7-8)
The biblical story is not a disjointed timeline of unities, separations, and restored unities; but it’s a history in which God searches for ever-new ways to walk with man and help him realize his true dignity.
The baptismal theme for this Sunday in Lent is that salvation comes as a gift of grace and communion. We may all look forward to that time in the future when we sit at the messianic banquet gathered with “… a great multitude which no man could number… standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes… These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” (Rev 7:9-14)
If we love God with all of our heart, and all of our mind, and all of our soul that love must be a faithful love on our part. This Sunday is called “Laetare (Rejoice) Sunday.” The liturgical color is changed from Lenten violet to a beautiful rose color. The theme of the day is one of hope and turns our attention to the Paschal Triduum (Holy Thursday through Easter Day) which is soon approaching.