Franco Grech osa

 

Reflections and Articles written by Fr Franco Grech osa

 


 

2nd Sunday of Lent

Gen. 15:5-12, 17-18; Psalm 26; Rom. Fil. 3:17-4:1; Lq. 9:28b-36

Read: Jesus took with him Peter and John and James and went up the mountain to pray. As he prayed, the aspect of his face was changed and his clothing became brilliant as lightning. Suddenly there were two men there talking to him; they were Moses and Elijah appearing in glory; and they were speaking of how he was due to end his life in Jerusalem.

Peter and his companions were heavy with sleep, but they kept awake and saw his glory and the two men standing with him. As they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus: “Master, it is wonderful for us to be here; therefore, let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” – He did not know what he was saying.

As he spoke, a cloud came and covered them with shadow; and when they went into the cloud the disciples were afraid. And a voice came from the cloud saying: “This is my Son, the Chosen One. Listen to him.” And after the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. The disciples kept silence and, at that time, told no one what they had seen.

Reflect: In the first Sunday of Lent, we heard about Jesus’ temptations in the desert. This reading prepares us for this Lenten period by reminding us that, if we want to benefit from the graces that Lent brings with it, we must accept, with the utmost humility, that we are vulnerable. If we are not attentive, we can fall for all the temptations which confront us. It is with Jesus that we can overcome such temptations, and the Lenten period trains us how to get back to being with Jesus.

In this second Sunday of Lent, God’s Word takes us from the desert where we faced our own reality, to a moment of prayer with Jesus on a mountain (the place of our meeting with God), where Jesus gives us a taste of his glory, in which, together with him, we are called to reach. Thus, we know our starting point and where is our destination.

Through his Church, we have just about started thinking about the Lord’s experiences in the desert, and quickly he mentions the mountain of dawn, glory, of victory; that we may not get tired, confused and lose heart. The Lord is lifting our hearts towards its final destination, towards the beauty that is awaiting us, so as to whet our appetite, encourage us, and to give sense to our present suffering.

Pray: Listen Lord to my pleas, have mercy on me and answer me. ”Come”, I said in my heart, “look out for His face”. I look out for your face, Lord. Please do not hide your face from me, do not put aside angrily your servant. You are my help, do not leave me and do not abandon me. The Lord is my salvation. I believe that I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Trust in God, be strong, let your heart be bold, put your hope in the Lord. (Psalm 26)

Act: During this Lenten period, perhaps you are saying: “I really wish to pray more ….. to love everybody ….. how I wish to become a saint.” Start praying more, start loving everybody, start being a saint by listening to Jesus and doing what he tells you. “When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone ‘..…. alone with you so that you would not be alone walking in the road of the conversion that you wish to make during Lent.


1st Sunday of Lent

Dwt. 26:4-10; Psalm 90; Rom. 10:8-13; Lq. 4:1-13

Read: Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit through the wilderness, being tempted there by the devil for forty days. During that time, he ate nothing and at the end he was hungry. Then the devil said to him: “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to turn into a loaf.” But Jesus replied: ‘Scripture says: ‘Man does not live on bread alone’.”

Then leading him to a height, the devil showed him in a moment of time all the kingdoms of the world and said to him: “I will give your all this power and the glory of these kingdom, for it has been committed to me and I give it to anyone I choose. Worship me, then, and it shall be yours.” But Jesus answered him: “Scripture says: ‘You must worship the Lord your God, and serve Him alone’.”

Then the devil led Jesus to Jerusalem and made him stand on the parapet of the Temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said to him, “throw yourself down from here, for scripture says: ‘He will put his angels in charge of you to guard you’, and again: ‘They will hold you up on their hands in case you hurt your foot against a stone’.”

But Jesus answered him: “It has been said: ‘You must not put the Lord your God to the test’.” Having exhausted all these ways of tempting him, the devil left him to return at the appointed time.

Reflect: The narration of these three temptations represents a symbolic summary of Jesus’ fight against evil, a struggle which he had in every moment of his life. The temptations faced by Christ, although seemingly different from the temptations with which we ourselves are confronted, teach us about the nature of our temptations so that we can guard ourselves against them.

Firstly, the devil tempts us and attacks us in our most weak points. The temptations would be tailor-made for us.

Secondly, the devil times well the moment of his temptations. In Jesus’ case, the devil knew that at that moment, Jesus was not so keen to obey his Father, once physically he was weak. In the same manner, the devil seeks moments when we are most weak.

These three temptations show the root of every temptation that we ourselves confront: an inclination to put God aside; that we consider Him of secondary importance or out of date; to rely only on our strength and abilities; and to figure a world without God. Today’s gospel is an appropriate start to the Lenten period. It shows us how we should sustain Jesus’ experience against Evil. It also shows us how to sustain Jesus’ experience when he won the battle against Evil. Together with Christ, during our trials during Lent, let us share also the triumph of Easter. 

Pray: Help me, Lord, to live this coming sacred time through a mature reflection on Your generosity; the need for a radical change.

Act: During this Lenten period let us listen, with more zeal, to God’s Word; recognise our faults and repent for these with the utmost sincerity; make acts of deprivation and penance; increase prayer and closeness to God; help more generously all those who are in need.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


8th Sunday of the year – Year C

Sir. 27:5-8; Psalm 91; 1 Cor. 15:54-58; Lq. 6:39-45

Read: Jesus told a parable to his disciples. “Can one blind man guide another? Surely both will fall into the pit? The disciple is not superior to his teacher; the fully trained disciple will always be like his teacher. Why do you observe the splinter in your brother’s eye and never notice the plank in your own? How can you say to your brother: ‘Brother, let me take out the splinter that is in your eye’, when you cannot see the plank in your own? Hypocrite! Take the plank out of your own eye first, and then you will see clearly enough to take out the splinter that is in your brother’s eye.

There is no sound tree that produces rotten fruit, nor again a rotten tree that produces sound fruit. For every tree can be told by its own fruit; people do not pick figs from thorns, nor gather grapes from brambles. A good man draws what is good from the store of goodness in his heart; a bad man draws what is bad from the store of badness. For a man’s words flow out of what fills his heart”.

Reflect: How can we distinguish whom we are to trust and who we cannot? How are we going to recognise those who are blind or who have a plank blocking their eyes? This Gospel reading gives us the criteria as to how we should exercise our judgment: “There is no sound tree that produces rotten fruit, nor again a rotten tree that produces sound fruit. For every tree can be told by its own fruit”. In St. Luke’s Gospel the “fruit” is the message given out by a Christian. This message could be good or bad. Jesus is inviting us to evaluate that this is in accordance with his own teaching: “For a man’s words flow out of what fills his heart”. What one says should be proven by the Gospel. Then we will be able to evaluate whether what he is telling us is food which strengthens us or is poisonous fruit. A good heart speaks good words full of mercy, whilst a bad heart speaks words that pollutes or hurts. Jesus did not tell us to learn from him how to make miracles. But he told us: “Learn from me because I am gentle and humble of heart”. (Mt. 11:29)

Pray: With Psalm 91: “The upright will flourish like a palm tree, will grow like a cedar of Lebanon. Planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in our God’s temple”.

Act: “Do not praise someone before he speaks, because thus will people be tried”. (Bin Sirak 27:8)

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7th Sunday of the year – Year C

1 Sam. 26:2.7-9;12-13;22-23; Psalm 102; 1 Cor. 15:45-49; Lq. 6:27-38

Read: Jesus said to his disciples: “I say this to you who are listening: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who treat you badly. To the man who slaps you on one cheek, present the other cheek too; to the man who takes your cloak from you, do not refuse your tunic. Give to anyone who asks you, and do not ask for your property back from the man who robs you. Treat others as you would like them to treat you.

If you love those who love you, what thanks can you expect? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what thanks can you expect? For even sinners do that much. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what thanks can you expect? Even sinners lend to sinners to get back the same amount. Instead love your enemies and do good and lend without any hope of return. You will have a great reward, and you will be sons of the Most High, for He Himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.

Be compassionate as your Father is compassionate. Do not judge, and you will not be judged yourselves; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned yourselves; grant pardon and you will be pardoned. Give and there will be gifts for you. A full measure, pressed down, shaken together, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap; because the amount you measure out is the amount you will be given back”.

Reflect: Whenever you love whoever has done you evil things means that you are helping him to realize his errors that he might change. It is not easy for a human being to do so. This is the reason why Jesus expects of us not only love, to do good, to bless, but also to pray. It is essential that we pray for those who commit evil things against us. When we do so we make it possible for our heart to be cleansed of any form of hatred.

Let us pray to God that He will fill with goodness those who commit evil; and when we manage to pray that way, our heart will be attuned with that of our Lord in Heaven “for he causes his sun to rise on the bad as well as the good, and he sends down rain to fall on the upright and the wicked alike”. (Mt. 5:45) Those who become attuned with the thoughts, sentiments, God’s behaviour, do not condemn their brethren. God the Father – who knows what is in the hearts of all – does not condemn. Those who look upon another person in the same way as God the Father, show mercy with those who do evil, and commit themselves to turn others round towards doing good.

Pray: Fill us Lord with your strength so that, in beseeching your love, we show mercy towards whoever annoys us. Help us to serve you always with a great heart.

Act: Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will find forgiveness; give and there will be gifts for you.


6th Sunday of the year – Year C

Jr. 17:5-8; Psalm 1:1-2,3,4,6; 1 Cor. 15:12,16-20; Lq. 6:17,20-26

Read: Jesus came down with the Twelve and stopped at a piece of level ground where there was a large gathering of his disciples with a great crowd of people from all parts of Judea, Jerusalem and from the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon. Fixing his eyes on his disciples he said: “Happy you who are poor; yours is the Kingdom of God. Happy you who are hungry now; you shall be satisfied. Happy you who weep now; you shall laugh. Happy are you when people hate you, drive you out, abuse you, denounce your name as criminal, on account of the Son of Man.

Rejoice when that day comes and dance for joy., for then your reward will be great in heaven. This was the way your ancestors treated the prophets. But alas for you who are rich; you are having your consolation now. Alas for you who have your fill now; you shall go hungry. Alas for you who laugh now; you shall mourn and weep. Alas for you when others speak well of you; this was the way your ancestors treated the false prophets”.

Reflect: Jesus teaches that the four situations of poverty, hunger, weeping and envy for his own sake can become a source of happiness and blessings. This because these situations induce persons, who are experiencing these situations, to depend on God, and to turn their attention completely towards Him. On the other hand, Jesus warns persons that those who chose materialism beyond their needs, excessive wealth; envy, hatred against others who have a good reputation, could find that these situations lead to their ruin.

Because when the latter seek at all costs to accumulate great wealth, it is easy for them to think only of themselves and to consider their wealth as the source of their happiness, and they put God aside. Jesus wants us to understand, with the utmost force, that only God is the only guarantee of our happiness and security.

Jesus is not placing a halo on the head of poverty, persecution, suffering, weeping or misfortunes. He is offering hope and solace to whoever finds himself in such situations. He is encouraging us not to place our hopes in the wealth of this world, whatever that may be. He is showing us that these riches, if not used well, could well interfere with the acquisition of greater things, amongst which eternal happiness.

Pray: “You Lord will teach me the path of life; unbounded joy in your presence, at your right-hand delight for ever (Psalm 16,11)

Act: Examine your way of life. Can you say that you are following the path proposed to you by Jesus?


5th Sunday of the year – Year C

Is. 6:1-2a, 3-8; Psalm 137; 1 Cor. 15:1,11; Lq. 5:1-11

Read: Jesus was standing one day by the Lake of Gennesaret, with the crowd pressing around him listening to the Word of God. And he saw two boats close to the bank. The fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats – it was Simon’s – and asked him to put out a little from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat.

When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon: “Put out into deep water and pay out your nets for a catch”. “Master”, Simon replied: “we worked hard all night long and caught nothing, but if you say so, I will pay out the nets”. And when they had done this, they netted such a huge number of fish that their nets started to tear; so they signalled to their companions in then other boat to come and help them. When they came, they filled the two boats to sinking point.

When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus saying: “Leave me Lord; I am a sinful man.” For he and all his companions were completely overcome by the catch they had made; so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were Simon’s partners. But Jesus said to Simon: “Do not be afraid; from now on it is men you will catch.” Then, bringing their boats back to land, they left everything and followed him.

Reflect: Peter and his companions were seasoned fishermen. This time, as throughout the night they had not caught anything, Peter felt disillusioned, disappointed. Jesus told Peter “Put out into deep water and pay out your nets for a catch”. Peter obeyed. He did not rely on his expertise, but placed his trust on the word of God: “as you say so”, so will I do. That day Peter acted wisely.  That day the catch of fish was so great that they filled two boats which were about to sink.

So as to recognise a miracle we need a good dose of humility. Whoever thinks that he knows everything and always is misguided. Man needs God. A Christian must be different from others …  he must go “fishing” as Peter did on that occasion relying on the Word of God. Many do not believe in miracles; precisely he believes only in their “fishing”. One needs to be courageous to say to Jesus: “since you say so, I will pay out the nets”. Peter said so. And with what result? He caught a great deal of fish.

Pray: Lord quieten us down from this run which has left us out of breath, and teach us how to rest a bit in You, to work at your pace, “fishing” when you so ask. Then the nets will be filled. Lord and we will not be working in vain.

Act: Today we say Peter’s renewal. Peter started looking in the right direction. The greatest miracle in this extract from today’s Gospel is not the catch of fish but the change of heart of those like Peter, James and John. Any you? “Do not wait to turn towards the Lord, and do not delay from day to day” (Sirach 15:6).


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