Laetare learning

17 Mar

gas gauge

The trick is to rejoice over learning something that you think you should have known a long time ago.

Advent and Lent both have a middle Sunday on which the Mass vestments are rose-colored. Each has a “rejoice” Sunday half way through the season. The names of the Sundays are Gaudete and Laetare, I know. But which was which puzzled me every six months. When I mentioned that to a much younger priest friend, he said, “That’s easy. Lent starts with an ‘L’ and so does Laetare.” Forty years a priest and it had never dawned on me that it was that easy.

The trick is to rejoice over learning something that you think you should have known a long time ago.

I was in a rental car. Pulling into a gas station, I grumbled that I did not know what side the gas tank was on. My passenger said, “That’s easy. Look at your dashboard.” As I looked at him and then at the dashboard, “Do you see an icon, a symbol of a gas pump? Is there an arrow by the pump? Which way it is pointing?” When my thumb pointed to the left, he smirked. I had never known that.

Did I rejoice over learning something that I thought I should have known a long time ago? Not really. The first three people I asked, “Do you know how you can tell which side of the car the gas tank is one?” answered, “Yeah, there is a little gas tank on the dashboard by the gas gauge, and there is a little arrow …” I quickly learned something else – that I was not rejoicing over learning what I thought I should have known all along; I was looking to find someone who didn’t know  what I knew.

The trick is to rejoice over learning something that you think you should have known a long time ago.

A man was blind since birth. Wanting to see something that, literally, he had never seen before, he went to Jesus for the grace. Jesus gave him sight. Now seeing, he saw many things that he had never seen before, that he “should” have been able to see a long time ago. No doubt he also learned something about himself that he had never known. And he certainly learned something about Jesus who had been right in front of his eyes all along!

In  this Laetare week, if you ask God for the blessing, you might be given the grace to learn something about yourself or about God that has not dawned on you until this week.

The trick will be to rejoice over learning something that you think you should have known a long time ago.

The key is to rejoice, not to be disappointed in yourself that you never noticed it, not to be embarrassed because you think that you should have seen it or known it a long time ago. The key is to rejoice.

May God give you this Lenten week the grace of a Laetare learning.

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