"Laetare Jerusalem: et conventum facite omnes qui diligitis eam: gaudete cum laetitia, qui in tristitia fuistis: ut exsultetis, et satiemini ab uberibus consolationis vestrae." The introit for the Fourth Sunday in Lent begins with the Latin word "laetare", giving this Sunday its name. We are now half-way through Lent and in place of the liturgy's persistent call of "repent" we are told "rejoice!"
You can think of Laetare Sunday as Lent's half-time. It is a time to pause, review how you've been spending the first three weeks of Lent and see what you need to adjust going in to the last three weeks. St. Paul tells us: "Every athlete exercises discipline in every way. They do it to win a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one. Thus I do not run aimlessly; I do not fight as if I were shadowboxing." (1 Cor 9:25-26) Maybe we've lost our focus. Maybe we've forgotten our destination and have begun to run aimlessly.
One way that we can lose focus during Lent is by spending too much time looking at our penance, or even worse--at ourselves doing penance. We can become so determined in 'succeeding' in the penance we have undertaken that we miss the point. The point of Lent is Easter. Lenten penitence is a preparation for Easter joy.
Today the liturgy reminds us of our destination. Now is the time to regroup, refocus, repent, and rejoice!