To judge by today's readings, you would think it was still "Laetare" Sunday, the one "rejoicing" day we get in Lent. Actually, the readings hint that we are at the turning point of Lent. Tomorrow things get a lot darker, but for now, we get a sneak peak at the blessings (St. Paul called them "overflowing gifts of grace") God wants to bestow on us, "full measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over."
I found it a little sad, though, to see the comforting blessing God promises toward the end of the first reading: "They shall live in the houses they build and eat the fruit of the vineyards they plant." This brought to mind the front-page photo from yesterday's New York Times, showing that the Sudanese government (through its janjaweed goons) is again burning villages in the south, which supposedly was under a peace agreement. The people in that burned-out village can no longer live in the houses they built, or eat from their own gardens. Our own sisters are recently arrived in south Sudan, along with many other religious congregations who were invited to help rebuild, counting on that peace treaty. Please say an extra prayer for all of them.