Today is “Laetare Sunday” [(layTAH-ray) the Sunday in which the entrance antiphon of the liturgy begins with the word “laetare”]. “Laetare” means “rejoice”. Midway through our Lenten journey towards Christ’s Passion and Resurrection, the Church invites us to rejoice. But Christian joy is different than normal joy. Normal joy goes away, because the things that cause it – like basketball championships and snow days – go away. But Christian joy is based on something that never goes away: friendship with Christ. Loving Christ and being loved by him – that’s friendship with Christ. And it doesn’t change with the seasons. He is always faithful. This explains why Christians can sing hymns inside concentration camps, because prisons can’t take away Christ’s love. That’s the kind of joy the Church invites us to renew today. And we do need to renew it. Most of us, if we’re honest, have to admit that we don’t always feel that joy. Why not? What’s the obstacle? We have faith, that’s why we’re here. We believe Christ loves us. So why don’t we experience Christian joy more deeply, more constantly? The obstacle to Christian joy is routine. It’s falling into routine in our relationship with God. That’s what happened to the younger son in the parable. He went looking for joy in all the wrong places, because he got tired of living with his dad. He became self-centered, and that made him bored. That’s exactly what happens to us when we go looking for happiness in sin, in disobedience to God’s will. The older son also lost sight of his father’s goodness. He let the routine of life embitter his heart. He forgot that his father was giving him everything. Sometimes we do the same thing: on the outside we are good Catholics, but on the inside, we are angry and critical, because we’re just going through the motions. We have let the fire go out of our friendship with Christ. Routine in our relationship with God is the obstacle to our experiencing Christian joy.