Fourth Sunday of Lent 27 March 2022

Laetare Sunday …a Sunday when we look forward to the Joy of the Easter season

I have a thought that has been buzzing around in the brain for several days this week based loosely on today’s Gospel.

The current crisis in the East …Russia and Ukraine is a little like a City, Kyiv, that historically and religiously sprouted two offshoots. The eldest being Ukraine and the youngest being Russia. The youngest grew, as did the oldest united religiously around Kyiv; but in time, the youngest did its thing, grew powerful, fell into difficult Spiritual and economic ways but always harboured thoughts about its Spiritual roots and the land of its older offshoot.

For a long time, the older offshoot respected the Moscow based spiritual leadership, yearned for a more freer expression of the dogmas and seeking a better home, joined Constantinople. This enraged the younger offshoot and it planned, not a reconciliation with its spiritual ancestor, but desired a forced subjugation.

The Father is left bewailing the acrimony and fighting, but still wishes to follow a more open practice of their mutual and historical spiritual birthright.

Secondly, again a little history, and this as perhaps a line for all to do some homework.

This concept of the Pope yet again consecrating Russia and Ukraine to the Blessed Virgin Mary has led some commentators to fear that the East may see this as a attempt by the West to impose again a position on the freedom of the East.

We ought to remember that it was in the East at the Council of Ephesus in 431 AD that the word THEOTOKOS describing the divine motherhood of God was agreed to by East and West. Devotion to Mary, historically was blossoming in Jerusalem and Alexandria long before Rome had the major Basilica of St Mary Major. In particular, their image of Mary as perfect, Immaculate and Virgin.

Hence the consecration is offered under the title of “Immaculate“, which may be read in today’s Churches as a recognition by the West of the historical truth coming from the East. As such, a potential olive branch, and a sign of peaceful intent.

A long game is being played here!

Finally in this semi rambling reflection, I still remember quite vividly, an occasion when the late Bishop Daly asked me to be a reconciler in the life of a particular person. We had the agreed neutral observer. We discussed the issues, we were getting nowhere. I then in a sense decided to play the Ace. I said “well, let us consider the teaching associated with the wonderful parable..the prodigal Father or if you like the Prodigal son “. Silence, and then in a loud voice “How I hate that Parable!“ Both the observer and I called it quits.

I hope that the Pope’s efforts to create an atmosphere of Peace will have more success.

The Parable is a gem. Read it again and again

Mons Frank