Franco Grech osa

 

Reflections and Articles written by Fr Franco Grech osa

 


 

6th Sunday of Easter

Acts 15:1-2, 22-29; Psalm 66; Rv. 21: 10-14, 22-23; Jn. 14: 23-29

Read: Jesus said to his disciples: “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and the Father will love him, and we shall come to him and make our home with him. Those who do not love me do not keep my words. And my word is not my own; it is the word of who sent me. I have said these things to you while still with you; but the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all I have said to you.

Peace I bequeath to you, my own peace I give you, a peace the world cannot give, this is my gift to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. You heard me say: I am going away, and shall return. If you loved me, you would have been glad to know that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. I have told you this now before it happens; so that when it does happen, you may believe.”

Reflect: Jesus said all he had to say; he did not omit anything. However, it is essential that the Spirit continues to teach. Jesus was unable to explain all the consequences and how should be applied in practice his message: “Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” Jesus reassures the disciples that they will always find an answer to all the questions with which they will be confronted and the circumstances that will arise in life. They will be able to give answers in accordance with his teaching if they learn how to listen to his word and to maintain their soul in harmony with the Spirit present in them. The disciples need a lot of courage to go along with His instructions, because many times He asks for a change in direction in which they are heading. But the Spirit does not teach anything but Jesus’ Gospel. The Spirit teaches in a dynamic way, becomes an internal impulse, leads in the correct direction, stimulates goodness, leads to decisions that are consistent with the Gospels.

The second role of the Holy Spirit is to remind us. There are many words that were said by Jesus that, notwithstanding the fact that they do appear in the Gospels, there is a risk that these are forgotten or are not mentioned. This happens especially in the case of those evangelical proposals that are not easily comprehended because these appear to run counter to the world’s common sense. For example, how is it possible that Christ’s disciples can forget the Lord’s words that prohibit all forms of violence towards their brethren? But this is something that often happens. Here comes in the Holy Spirit to remind the disciples of Jesus’ words: “Love your enemies; do good to whoever hates you; bless whoever curses you; pray for those who treat you badly.” (Lq.6:27-29)

Act: Lord, hasten to send us the Spirit Defender to remind us of the attitudes which you yourself tried to teach us.

Pray: In your walk towards blessedness, embrace with you the Holy Spirit by praying more. Live the fruit of such prayer: love; happiness; tolerance; gentleness; goodness.


5th Sunday of Easter

Acts 14:21-27; Psalm 144; Rv. 21: 1-5a; Jn. 13: 31-33a, 34-35

Read: When Judas left the cenacle, Jesus said: “Now has the son of Man been glorified, and in him God has been glorified. If God has been glorified in him, God will in turn glorify him in himself, and will glorify him very soon. My children, I shall not be with you much longer. I give you a new commandment, to love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also must love one another. By this love you have for one another, everyone will know that you are my disciples.”

Reflect: In this Gospel reading the word “glorified” features several times. For us, the word “glorified” or “to be glorified” means that one gains the approval and praise of others. For Jesus, these words have another meaning. Jesus was glorified when Judas left the meal so as to make a deal with the high priests as to how to corner the Master. It is Jesus who goes to his passion and death, who gave up himself into the hands of those who wanted to kill him, who was nailed to the cross, in whom God’s glory was shown. Jesus makes clear what his glory consists of: “Now the hour has come for the son of Man to be glorified …..unless a wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains a single grain, but if it dies, it yields a rich harvest.” (Jn. 12:23-24)

His glory is the moment when he shows the world how great is God’s love for man by giving his life for mankind. This is the only type of glory that he promised also to his disciples. Therefore, if we really wish to be true disciples of Jesus, we need to seek the type of Jesus’ glory … that which emerges from giving ourselves to others lovingly.

Pray: All your creatures shall thank you, Lord, and your faithful shall bless you. They shall speak of the glory of your kingship and tell of your might. (Psalm 144)

Act: The Lord tells us “Just as I have loved you, you also must love one another.” And how did He love? He continued loving Judas who betrayed him, Peter who denied him, the Apostles who abandoned him. True love does not look to one’s shortcomings, but to one’s needs.


4th Sunday of Easter

Acts 13:14, 43-52; Psalm 99; Rv. 7: 9, 14b-17; Jn. 10: 27-30

Read: Jesus said: “The sheep that belong to me listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life; they will never be lost and no one will ever steal them from me. The Father who gave them to me is greater than anyone, and no one can steal from the Father. The Father and I are one.”

Reflect: “The sheep that belong to me listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me”. How are we going to recognise the voice of the true shepherd amongst the many voices that we hear daily? We need to train our ears to listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd. Whoever listens to just one person and for a few minutes, and then for a whole year does not listen to him at all, finds it difficult to distinguish between the voice of that person in a crowd of people. Whoever listens to the Gospel only once a year will not learn how to recognise the Lord’s voice that is talking to him.

But let us state the obvious, it is not easy to place our trust in Jesus because he does not promise successes or victories. But he asks you to be a gift, he asks you not to see advantages for your own sake, he asks you to give your life to him and to your brethren. Nonetheless – he assures you – that this is the only way that leads to eternal life: “And I will give you eternal life.” So as to reach this eternal life, there are no shortcuts; whoever points you in other directions will be deceiving you and will lead you to death.

Pray: Who like you Lord, is concerned about me? Who is anxious to get to know me as much as you do? Recognise me Lord …and continue to have mercy on me.

Act: “The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want.” When we hear His voice, let us take David’s advice which is: “I place my life in the hands of the Lord so that His will be done.”


3rd Sunday of Easter

Acts 5: 27-32, 40b-41; Psalm 29; Rv. 5: 11-14; Jn. 21: 1-19

Read: Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and it happened like this: Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee and two more of his disciples were together. Simon Peter said: “I am going fishing.” They replied: “We will come with you.” They went out and got into the boat but caught nothing that night.

The following morning at daybreak Jesus stood on the shore though the disciples did not realise that it was Jesus. He called out: “Have you caught anything friends?” When they answered “No”, he said: “Throw the net out to starboard and you will find something.” So, they dropped the net, and there were so many fish that they could not haul it in! The disciple Jesus loved said to Pater: “It is the Lord.” Simon Peter, who had practically nothing on, wrapped his cloak around himself and jumped into the water. The other disciples, as they were not far away from land but only about one hundred yards afar, came close to help drag the net full of fish.

Reflect: In our parishes and churches, how many times do we make ambitious pastoral programmes; in our families we make use of the latest psychological techniques so as always better to educate our children; we make every effort, make plans ….. but this notwithstanding, we know that that even our best efforts are not always successful.

It is possible that, in our lives, something similar to that experienced by the seven disciples in today’s gospel reading happens to us. After Easter they went fishing; they were experienced fishermen and had willpower. They worked throughout the night, but did not catch anything. Their efforts produced no results; they acted in the dark without the light of the Word of the Risen Christ. And this is what we sometimes do.

At times, what Jesus tells us, the Word appears, according to our own mind, not to make any sense, remote from any logic, seemingly contrary to common sense; for example, when Jesus tells us things such as to work for peace without the use of violence, or not to turn aside our face, to love our enemy, to be poor in spirit …. these are instances where such advice seems absurd to us, the same as was the advice to the apostles to drop their nets in the sea during daylight. But the choice is between having faith in Jesus and in his words and you will have an effective result, or for one to be hard-headed and to muddle through without concluding anything.  

Pray: Without You, Lord, without your Word, we are unable to do anything.

Act: “Do whatever He tells you.” (Jn. 2:5)


2nd Sunday of Easter

Acts 5: 12-16; Psalm 117; Apoc. 1:9-11a; 12-13; 17-19; John 20: 19-31

Read: In the evening of that same day, the first day of the week, the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them. He said to then: “Peace be with you,” and showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were filed with joy when they saw the Lord and he said to them again: “Peace be with you. As the father sent me, so am I sending you.” After saying this he breathed on them and said: “Receive the Holy Spirit. For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained.”

Thomas, called the twin, who was one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. When the disciples said: “We have seen the Lord,” he answered: “Unless I see the holes that the nails made in his hands and unless I can put my finger into his side, I refuse to believe.” Eight days later the disciples were in the house again and Thomas was with them. The doors were closed but Jesus came in and stood among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. Then he spoke to Thomas: “Put your finger here; look, here are my hands. Give me your hand; put it into my side. Doubt no longer but believe.” Thomas replied: “My Lord and my God!” Jesu said to him: “You believe because you can see me. Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.”

Reflect: Peace is a treasure for which we always crave within ourselves, in our family, in our society. Because what sense does life have if we do not live in peace. All that litigation and wars bring with them is a lot of suffering to many people. Presently we are witnessing daily the consequences of war in Ukraine ….. tremendous suffering, innocent persons dying; we have a great desire that peace will reign in the world. However, peace seems to be remote. And sometimes a plea emerges from our heart: Lord, where are you in all this? But it is necessary that we continue to believe: “Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.”

Many times we fail to see the Lord in the difficult circumstances of life. Today we are seeing Jesus who, despite his victory over sin and death, in his glorious body he still bears the marks of his suffering and passion that were caused by the evil of mankind …. as a result of envy, greed, arrogance, a craving for power, treachery. The Risen Lord knows full well the consequences of evil of a person on other persons. We need to continue to believe that the Lord is present with those who are suffering. We are unable to understand, to see, this clearly but we need to persist in believing. Happy are those who do not see and yet believe. Let us continue to pray for peace and to do all we can to continue to help those persons who are suffering.

Pray: O most merciful Jesus, you are the Light of the entire world. Receive, in the shelter of Your - all merciful – Heart, the souls of those who, until now, do not believe in You or do not know You. Make the rays of Your graciousness enlighten them, so that they too, together with us, praise the wonders of Your mercy, and do not let them distance themselves from Your most merciful Heart.

Act: If all of us do trust one another a bit more, if we do not base the future on the past, if we do believe that a new beginning is possible for everyone …. peace will not be seen as the luxury we have rendered it to be.


Easter Sunday - The Lord’s Resurrection from the Dead

Acts 10:3, 37-43; Psalm 117; Colossians 3:1-4; John 20:1 -9

Read: Peter started speaking and said: “You must have heard about the recent happenings in Judea; about Jesus of Nazareth and how he began in Galilee, after John had been preaching baptism. God had anointed him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and because God was with him, Jesus went about doing good and curing all who had fallen into the power of the devil. Now I, and those with me, can witness to everything he did throughout the countryside of Judea and in Jerusalem itself; also, to the fact that they killed him by hanging him on a tree.

Yet, three days afterwards God raised him to life and allowed him to be seen, not by the whole people but only by certain witnesses God had chosen beforehand. Now we are those witnesses – we have eaten and drunk with him after his resurrection from the dead – and he has ordered us to proclaim this to his people and to tell them that God has appointed him to judge everyone, alive or dead. It is to him that all the prophets bear this witness; that all who believe in Jesus will have their sins forgiven through his name”.

Reflect: St. Peter’s and the other apostles who had the grace to “eat and drink” with Jesus was a unique experience which is repeatable. Nonetheless, to be a witness to Christ, it is not necessary to have physically walked with Jesus of Nazareth in the streets of Palestine. St. Paul, who himself had not even known Jesus personally, was called to be a witness of what he had seen (Acts 26:16) and to receive his mission from God “As you bore witness for me in Jerusalem, it is also necessary that you give witness for me in Rome”. (Acts 23:11).

To be a witness does not imply giving a good example. This is definitely necessary, but being a witness is something different. This can be done only by someone who has passed from death to life; somebody who can confirm that his life has changed and made sense when it became enlightened by the light of Easter; someone who has experienced that faith in Christ gives a meaning to moments of happiness and to moments of unhappiness, and who is enlightened by whatever is experienced in such moments. If our heart is open to understand the Scriptures, we will be able to see the Lord.

Pray: Praise the Lord, because He is good, because His goodness is for ever! Let the children of Israel say: “His goodness is for ever”.

Act: Let us ask ourselves: Is Jesus’ death and resurrection a point of reference in all the projects we undertake, when we go shopping, when we sell something, when we dialogue, when the time comes to share out an inheritance, when we chose to have another child …… or do we believe that the realities of this world have nothing to do with Easter? Anyone who has “seen” the Lord will be incapable to do anything without Him.


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