Franco Grech osa

 

Reflections and Articles written by Fr Franco Grech osa

 


 

18th Sunday of the Year - B

Exodus 16: 2-4, 12-15; Psalm 77; Ephes. 17, 20-24; John 6: 24-35

Read: Jesus answered them: “In all truth I tell you, you are looking for me not because you have seen the signs, but because you had all the bread you wanted to eat. Do not work for food that goes away, but work for food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of man will give you, for on him the Father, God himself, has set his seal.”

Reflect: That which in last Sunday’s Gospel – the sharing of bread amongst a great crowd of people – appeared to show Jesus’ popularity amongst the people, to the extent that they wished to make him their King, for Jesus was an episode of disappointment. This because, those people, appeared not to understand the sign that he wished to convey to them.

Jesus noticed that those people were not seeking him because they were hungry for his words, because they wished to better understand his message, or so that they would have a clearer understanding of the signs he had done. They were looking for him only in the hope that they would again have food in abundance without having to work to obtain this. Because of this attitude of these people of the Gospel, the evangelist invites every Christina to examine one’s motivation for seeking the Lord, to take refuge in Him, to pray and to practice one’s religion.

There is a need for us to admit that sometimes, like these people who witnessed the signs of the sharing of the bread, we approach Jesus only to ask for bread that is eaten and goes away: special graces; miracles; good health; success; material means; refuge from disasters. Jesus tells us: “Do not work for food that goes away, but work for food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of man will give you.”

Pray: “Master give us always from this bread”.

Act:  Bread that satisfies the need for one’s happiness is the Word of Jesus. Let us read and reflect on the Word of Jesus as the bread that gives life to those who eat it.


17th Sunday of the Year - B

Kings 4: 42-44; Psalm 144; Ephes. 4: 1-6; John 6: 1-15

Read: Looking up, Jesus saw the crowds approaching him and said to Philip: “Where can we buy some bread for these people to eat?” He said this only to test Philip; he himself knew exactly what he was going to do. Philip answered: “Two hundred denari would only be enough to give them a small piece each”. One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said: ”There is a small boy here with five barley loaves and two small fish; but what is that between so many?” Jesus said to them: “Make the people sit down”.

There was plenty of grass there, and as many as five thousand men sat down. Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and gave them out to all who were already sitting; he then did the same with the fish, giving out as much as each wanted. When they had eaten enough, he said to his disciples: “Pick up the pieces left over, so that nothing gets wasted”. So, they picked them up, and filled twelve hampers with scraps left over from the meal of five barley loaves.

Reflect: From all the signs made by Jesus, none was related as often as that of the miracle of the bread. All the Evangelists recounted this happening. But it is only the Evangelist St. John who mentions the young boy who had “five barley loaves and two small fish”. This young boy was prepared to share the little food he had, including “the barley loaves” which typically was the type of bread eaten by the poor. The young boy is the model of how a disciple of Jesus should be, a Christian: “In truth I tell you, anyone who does not welcome the Kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it” (Mark 10:15).

The poor youth is an example of the disciple who is called to share all that he has with his brethren, even if this is not much. The generosity of this youth was the key that made possible the miracle of the sharing of bread. The disciple discards his egoism, by overcoming his strong desire for money and other good things that “is the root of all evil” (1Timothy 6:10). He welcomes the logic of the Kingdom of God and shares with his brethren all that he has, and that is where a miracle takes place; everybody ate sufficiently and even more was left. That is how the disciple, you and I, participate in the plan of God who wants to execute his providence through us.

Pray: Open your hands, Lord; make us happy with all that You give us.

Act:  Let us play our small part for the good of others as regards our presence; contributions; participation in organisations. The rest we should leave for God to provide


16th Sunday of the Year - B

Jer.23: 1-6; Psalm 22; Ephes. 2: 13-18; Mark. 6: 30-34

Read: In those days, the apostles re-joined Jesus and they related to him all that they had done and taught. And he told them: “You must come away to some lonely place all by yourselves and rest for a while”. Because, truly, there were so many coming and going, that the apostles had no time even to eat. So, they went off in a boat to a lonely place where they could be by themselves. But people saw them going and many recognized them, and they walked hurried to the place on foot, people from many towns and they arrived before them. As he stepped ashore from the boat, he saw a large crowd, and he took pity on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he set himself to teach them many things.

Reflect: St. Augustine once said: “Take care of your body as though you are to live for ever; and take care of your soul as though you are going to die tomorrow”. We always need to take good care of ourselves as much as possible, even by seeking time for rest. Holidays and rest are not a waste of time, but a necessity. Our body needs rest, our mind requires to rest, our spirit also needs time to rest. I tell you that free time is beautiful, indeed precious. When resting, you can get to know better yourself, those around you and also God. Restful time should never be a time of laziness. As a man, Jesus used to get tired, and thus in need of rest, but Jesus was never lazy. He spent his restful periods communicating with God the Father and also in contact with others.

Think a bit on these examples from the Gospels: “Come away with me to some lonely place all by yourselves and rest for a while” (Mark 6:31). “And at once he made his disciples get into the boat and to go on ahead to the other side near Bethsaida, while he himself sent the crowd away. After saying goodbye to them, he went off into the hills to pray” (Mark 6:45-46). “It was about the sixth hour, and Jesus, tired by the journey, sat down by the well” (John 4:6). Continue then with the long dialogue between Jesus and the Samaritan woman (see John 4:7-30).

Pray: During your time of rest, you can communicate more with others and with God: “The apostles re-joined Jesus and they related to him all that they had done and taught”.

Act:  Three suggestions so as to profit more from your free time; listen to three voices:-

  1. Try to listen to the call of nature, this is all that is beautiful around you.
  2. Try to listen to your conscience ….. the voice of God within you.
  3. Try to listen to the voices of others especially the poor and those less fortunate than yourself.

15th Sunday of the Year - B

Amos 7: 12-15; Psalm 84; Ephes. 1: 3-14; Mark. 6: 7-13

Read: At that time, Jesus called the Twelve, and he started sending them out two by two, at the same time giving them the power over evil spirits. He warned them not to take anything with them for their journey except a staff; no bread, no haversack, no money in their purses. They were to wear sandals but not to take a spare tunic. He told them: ”When you enter a home remain there until you leave the district. But if you are not welcomed anywhere and people refuse to listen to you, leave that place and, as you walk away, shake off the dust from under your feet as a sign to them”. Thus, they went forward evangelising so that the people could be redeemed; and they expelled many devils, and anointed many sick who were healed.

Reflect: He became poor so that they would become free could be the motto that brings together the conditions that Jesus laid down in today’s Gospel to those who are called upon to spread his word. The Lord ordered the Church to preach his Good News. Every baptised is obliged to evangelise. We cannot love Jesus and at the same time do not give importance to the need to ascertain whether or not others love him. This does not mean that we should impose our beliefs on others. However, one should explain one’s beliefs in a civil way and with respect. In that way we offer our beliefs. The best way of evangelising is our way of life: “In the same way your light must shine in people’s sight, so that, seeing your good works, they make give praise to your Father in heaven” (Mt. 5: 16).

How we pass this on this knowledge is important. But quite apart from anything else, the most important thing remains the power of God. That is why Jesus told them not to take anything with them except a staff. The most important thing was, and remains, that we rely on God. If we do not have faith in God, we will have second thoughts and we will not be able to proclaim the Good News.

Pray: Lord, we are so reluctant to place our faith in You, but You trust us with closed eyes. Not because you are unaware of our nothingness because you do know that hand-in-hand with You we will get there.

Act:  Let us not be closed within ourselves. Let us not seek our own comfort zone, but welcome God’s call to go out to evangelise, firstly and above everything else, by our way of living.


14th Sunday of the Year - B

Ezekiel 2: 2-5; Psalm 122; 2 Cor. 2: 2-5; Mark. 6: 1-6

Read: Jesus told them: “A prophet is not without honour except in his own native place and amongst his own kinsmen in his own family”. And there he was unable to make any miracles except to place his hand on some sick people and to heal them; and he was amazed by their lack of faith.

Reflect: The attitude of the people of Nazareth towards Jesus is repeated nowadays. Jesus comes again to us, we think we know him, and he makes his propositions to us. He invites us to reconsider those convictions which we learnt in our younger days, to allow our faith grow. Our reaction, in many instances, is similar to that of the people of Nazareth.; initially we give the impression that we do not understand him, and then we even go as far as to deny him.

This lack of belief on our part has dramatic consequences. Jesus is unable to make miracles as was the case with his words and meetings with people everywhere. He offers his own salvation, but does not impose this, because he loves, and love respects the liberty of others.

If in today’s world miracles do not seem to happen, if the situation of our lives does not engender peace, justice, and reconciliation between mankind, the reason is the same one; mankind does not have the courage fully to place trust in Christ and in his word.

Pray: Help me Lord not to be proud of myself, with the strength of my arms, with my mental abilities. Give me the wish to bring myself to my senses; keep me in my place in your presence; that far can I go when I try on my own.

Act:  May I recognise the Lord’s teaching, not in a manner that I myself expect that he should teach me, but through each day’s happenings, through the ordinary circumstances of life, through the persons whom I meet.


13th Sunday of the Year - B

Wisdom 1: 13-15, 2: 23-24; Psalm 29; 2Cor. 8: 7-9, 13-15; Mark. 5: 21-43

Read: Now there was a woman who had suffered from a haemorrhage for twelve years ……..When she heard about Jesus, she mixed with the crowd, came up behind him and touched his clothes, because she said “If I can even touch his clothes, I shall be well again.” The source of the bleeding dried instantly and she felt in herself that she was cured of her complaint. Immediately aware that power had gone out of him, Jesus turned round in the crowd and said “Who touched my clothes?”…… Then the woman came forward, frightened and trembling because she knew what had happened to her, she came close to him, fell at his feet and told him the whole truth. He told her “My daughter, your faith has restored you to health; go in peace, and be free from your complaint.”

Reflect: The woman who used to suffer from a haemorrhage believed that, if she just touched Jesus’ clothes, she would be healed. And so it happened. The power of life emanates from Jesus, but not everyone who touches him receives this. In today’s Gospel extract we read that there was a large crowd around him. These were not his enemies, but disciples, persons who were very close to him, who probably were pushing him around.

Nonetheless, Jesus says that one person ‘touched’ him. Only the sick woman touched him ‘with faith’. He told her “My daughter, your faith has restored you to health. Only you from all these people was capable of receiving God’s grace.” The crowd represents us, today’s Christians, who are close to the Master. We have the opportunity to listen to the word of God and to ‘touch’ Him through the Sacraments, especially through the Eucharist. If our life does not change, if our spiritual disease is not healed, and our vices and sins always remain the same, if our difficult character does not change, and words that cause offence do not start diminishing, that means that we remain in the ‘crowd’ that gathers around Christ without having ever ‘touched’ him. We will have only superficial contact with him; his words will simply be a noise that enters our ears, but does not reach the heart. It is faith that brings salvation.

Pray: Hear me, Lord, and have mercy on me; help me, Lord. You changed my sorrows to happiness, Lord my God, I will praise you for ever!

Act:  Jesus is telling you: “Do not be afraid, just believe.”


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