Franco Grech osa

 

Reflections and Articles written by Fr Franco Grech osa

 


 

4th Sunday of the year – Year C

Jer. 1:4-5,17-19; Psalm 70; 1 Cor. 12:31,13:13; Lq. 4:21-30

Read: Jesus told those in the synagogue: “This text is being fulfilled today even as you listen.” And he won the approval of all; and they were astonished by the gracious words that came from his lips. They said: “Is he not Joseph’s son?” But he replied: “No doubt you will quote me the saying: ‘Physician cure yourself’ and tell me: ‘We have heard all that happened in Capernaum, do the same here in your own countryside!’” And he went on: “I tell you solemnly, no prophet is ever accepted in his own country. There were many widows in Israel, I can assure you, in Elijah’s day when heaven remained shut for three years and three months and a great famine raged throughout the land but Elijah was not sent to any one of these; he was sent to a widow of Zarephath, a Sidonian town”.

“And in the prophet Elisha’s time there were many lepers in Israel, but none of these were cured, except the Syrian Naaman.” When they heard this, everyone in the synagogue was enraged; they sprang to their feet and hustled him out of the town; and they took him to the brow of the hill that their town was built on, intending to throw him down the cliff, but he slipped through the crowd and walked away.

Reflect: Today the Word of God reminds us that we should be prophets in our time. We cannot offer others a greater gift than the Good News. However, we must be ready to carry out this mission even when we encounter opposition; obstruction and persecution. Someone once said: “Whoever wishes to dance should not be concerned about treading on toes”. It is a reality that those extoling the Word of God will be inviting not to receive bouquets of flowers, but to be criticized; to be looked upon unkindly; to be stopped from gaining a deserved promotion; in other words, to receive some form of persecution. That is what happened to Jesus of Nazareth.

The message being given us by the evangelist St. Luke through the final phrase: “He slipped through the crowd and walked away”, is a message of consolation and hope to us Christians whenever we are faced with some form of opposition, lack of agreement, and sometimes also hatred when evangelising the Word of God. The risk to a Christian when facing such experiences is that one forgets that what one is going through, is a repetition of what was experienced before him by the prophets and by Jesus. The evangelist assures us, Christians protected by God, that we too encounter persecutions and that we should nonetheless carry out our objectives.

Pray: My mouth announces your justice. In You, Lord do I seek refuge; I will thus never be confused. Because your justice will save me and protect me, listen to me and hasten to free me.

Act: Let us start our work of evangelising, like Jesus, the Good News, from our own country, town, from wherever we found ourselves after waking up. 

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3rd Sunday of the year – Year C

Neh. 8:2-4a, 5-6, 8-10; Psalm 18; 1 Cor. 12:12-30; Lk. 1:1-4, 4:14-21

Read: And he came to Nazareth where he had been brought up. He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath day as he usually did. He stood up to read and they handed him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Unrolling the scroll, he found the place where it is written:

“The spirit of the Lord has been given to me, for he has anointed me. He has sent me to bring the good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives and to the blind new sight, to set the downtrodden free, to proclaim the Lord’s year of favour.”

He then rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the assistant and sat down. And all eyes in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to speak to them, “This text is being fulfilled today even as you listen.”

Reflect: “This text is being fulfilled today even as you listen.” Even today the Lord Jesus is proclaiming “liberty to captives” and to “set the downtrodden free”. Today Jesus’ words will start freeing those who listen, not only from sickness, but also from psychological and moral obstacles that do not allow one to move ahead and to grow in love. The net of uncontrolled passions makes mankind seek one’s egoistic interests, to have a great thirst for wealth, and madness for power and success.

These are chains that make mankind a slave. Today, these chains are going to start to break! The power to break these is the Holy Spirit …. “The spirit of the Lord has been given to me”. Thus, the Spirit works through Jesus not only when performing miracles of healing, but also when, through His forceful words, He breaks the chains that keep mankind in a state of slavery.

Pray: Your words Lord are spirit and life! Let the words that emerge from my mouth and the thoughts in my heart be welcomed in Your presence, Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

Act: Think about the good message of the Gospel. Thank God for the fact that this is truly the word in your personal life.

 


2nd Sunday of the year – Year C

Is. 62:1-5; Psalm 95; 1 Cor. 12:4-11; Jn. 2:1-11

Read: There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited. As they ran out of wine, Jesus’ mother said to him: “They have no wine”. Jesus said: “Woman, what do you want from me? My hour has not yet come”. Jesus’ mother told the servants: “Do whatever he tells you”. There were six stone water jars standing there, meant for the ablutions that are customary among the Jews. Each could hold about one hundred or one hundred and twenty litres. Jesus said to the servants: “Fill the jars with water”, and they filled them to the brim. Then he said to them: “Draw out some now and take it to the president of the feast”. They did so; the president tasted the water that had been turned into wine, and having no idea where it came from - though the servants who had drawn the water knew - the president of the feast called the bridegroom and said: “Everyone serves good wine first, and the worse wine when the guests are well wined, but you have kept the best wine till now”. What was the first of Jesus’ signs was made at Cana of Galilee. He revealed his glory and his disciples believed in him.

Reflect: The religion taught by the Jewish Rabbi at Jesus’ time was based on how much merit one gained before God by adhering scrupulously to His laws. We frequently fall into the temptation of following the practice of the Jews ….. doing what we do because we are obliged to, in the belief of obtaining merit before God. And we end up feeling unhappy, we rebel …. and we give up.

When the Mass becomes a simple ritual and not an experience to which we come gladly, full of happiness, enthusiastic …. the “wine’ will have finished.

When what we should be doing in Church, in the family, at work is done because of compulsion, heartlessly, without eagerness, unhappily …. the “wine’ will have finished.

If we notice that in any part of our life the “wine” has finished, let us emulate Mary and turn to Jesus telling him faithfully: Our wine has finished. Let us be aware that the water of life comes only from Jesus through prayer, the sacraments, listening attentively to God’s Word. When we drink of the water given by Him, that water becomes in us “wine” … it turns within us into love, happiness, enthusiasm.

Pray: Lord, we would like to welcome you into our Christian community, in our family, at our place of work, wherever we may be. Thus, we will be able to experience your goodness, generosity and creativity. Give us the water of life that only you can give and, within us, this will be changed into “wine”.

Act: “Do whatever he tells you”…not by compulsion, but heartily, with love, with faith and with eagerness.


The Baptism of the Lord

Is. 40: 1-5, 9-11; Psalm 103; Tt. 2: 11-14, 3: 4-7; Lk. 3: 15- 16, 21-22

Read: A feeling of expectancy had grown among the people who were beginning to wonder whether John might be the Christ. So, John declared before all of them: “I baptise you with water, but someone is coming who is more powerful than me, and I am not fit to undo the strap of his sandals. He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” It so happened that, after the entire population was baptised, Jesus was also baptised and, whilst he was praying, heaven opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in a physical form, like a dove. And a voice came from heaven “You are my Son, the Beloved; my favour rests on you.”

Reflect: Did you know that at your baptism, the Father tells you the very same words that He was heard telling Jesus? “You are my son, the Beloved; my favour rests on you.” This is because through our baptism we become a new creation; we cloth ourselves with Christ and we become children of God! Baptism gives us a new life; that is why we are baptised with water, a sign of something that cleans but, more importantly, that gives life; a life by the grace of God.

This dignity of becoming children of God brings with it also the mission that we are to carry out in the world; we become servants of God amongst our brethren. We are in duty bound to listen to the Word of God and to let this work within us, so that then we pass this on to others. Our life and the world we live in were blessed by the Son of God; however, we have to carry out our mission by bringing nearer or offering ourselves and all creation the creator who is God.  

Pray: “Whist he was praying”. Jesus’s prayer becomes commonplace as from the time that his Father speaks to him and confirms who he is. Let us also pray: Father, notwithstanding our limitations, let us be worthy of remaining your delight, your worthy children, your beloved. Also let your Son Jesus be our delight, our treasure, the wealth of our heart.

Act: Live your baptism; so that in your regard the Father may be able to say: “This is my beloved son in whom I have found favour.”


The Epiphany of the Lord

Is. 60: 1-6; Psalm 71; Ep. 3: 2-6; Mt. 2: 1- 12

Read: When Jesus was born in Betlehem of Judaea, during the reign of king Herod, some wise men came to Jerusalem from the East asking “Where is the infant king of the Jews? Because we saw his star as it rose, and we came to do him homage …. “. As soon as they saw the star they were filled with great joy. When they entered the house and saw the infant with his mother Mary, they fell down on their knees and paid homage to him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts of gold, and frankincense and myrrh.

Reflect: The star regarding which St. Matthew relates in his Gospel in found not only in the heavens but also in the Bible. “I am seeing this, but not yet; looking at it but not from near. A star is emerging from Jacob, a sceptre is rising from Israel; to strike the brow of Moab, and of Seth’s children. Edom too will be conquered land; Seir too will be a conquered land, when Israel exerts his strength, when Jacob tramples on his enemies and destroys the last survivors of Ar.” (Numbers 24: 17-19)  

Thus spoke Balaam, “the prophecy of the man with far-seeing eyes, the prophecy of one who hears the word of God, and sees a vision of God who is most powerful”.  (Numbers 24:3). This was about 1,200 years before Christ’s birth. From that time, the Jews started waiting for the rising of this gleaming star which was none other than the Messiah himself. Thus, Jesus is that star!

St. Matthew was writing his Gospel in the year 80 AD. He was seeing that the pagans were joining the Church in great numbers. They recognised and adored the Star, whilst the Jews, who were waiting for many centuries, denied him. Therefore, the story of the magi is a “parable” of what was happening in the Christian community towards the end of the first century. The pagans had recognised the infant of Betlehem, their King and God, and they offered Him gifts. The Magi are symbols of people from around the world who are led and enlightened by Christ. He is the symbol of the Church made up of people of every race, tribe, language and nation.

Joining a church does no mean that one denies one’s identity. This does not mean that one submits oneself to a false and unjust uniformity. All persons and peoples maintain their characteristics and culture. This is the way in which the Church enriches itself. Nobody is rich enough to claim that one needs nothing more and nobody is poor to the extent that one has nothing to offer.

Pray: Lord, you have no frontiers, barriers, cultures. You desire that all peoples inherit those who seek you. Lord I wish to see you clearly, so as to love you more, serve you better, to be attached to You more securely!

Act: If the star is Jesus himself, should we remove it from our cribs? No! Let us contemplate the star and show it to our children, whilst explaining that the star is not simply a star in the heavens, but is Jesus. He is the light that enlightens every person (St. John 1:9). He is ‘the Star shining in the morning” (Apok. 11: 16).


The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph

Sam. 1: 20-22, 24-28; Psalm 83; 1 St. John 3: 11- 2. 21-24

Read: Every year Jesus’ parents used to go to Jerusalem for the feast of Easter; also, when he was twelve years old according to the custom at the Easter feast. When those days had passed, they started their journey back, but the young Jesus remained at Jerusalem without the knowledge of his parents. They thought that he was with others who were journeying with them; however, after a day’s journey, they looked for him amongst their relatives and others known to them, and they did not find him, and thus they returned to Jerusalem looking for him.

After three days they found him in the temple, sitting amongst the teachers, listening to them and putting questions to them; and all who heard him were amazed by his knowledge and with his answers. They were stunned when they saw him and his mother said to him: “My son, why did you do this to us? See, your father and I were looking for you with a broken heart.” And he said to them: “And why were you looking for me? Do you not know that I should be looking after my father’s business?” But they did not understand his words. Then he joined them and returned to Nazareth, and he was obedient to them. And his mother felt in her heart all these things. Thus, Jesus continued to grow in wisdom, in years and in grace, in the presence of God and all mankind.

Reflect: There are many semblances between when Joseph and Mary lost Jesus and then found him in the temple, and our own spiritual life. At the beginning of this happening, Joseph and Mary are content. Eventually, after a number of years, they were able to go to Jerusalem to give homage to God whom they loved above everything else. They were full of peace and God’s happiness. The same is the case with us when we are near to God and His Church, our new Jerusalem.

But on their way back home, Mary and Joseph certainly had not noticed that they were slowly distancing themselves from Jesus. Distracted as they were in the company of their relatives and friends, they did not notice that Jesus was no longer with them. Often, we ourselves are distracted by what appears to be good, when in reality we are actually distancing ourselves from what is more important.

It is difficult for us to recognise when something else is taking over our interior/spiritual life. That is why Jesus told us to pray – so that we learn to give due attention to this important aspect of our life to which we often do not give enough attention.

When we stop reflecting, there is a chance of being shocked as happened to Mary and Joseph when they said “Where is Jesus?”. Because in all sincerity we would be thinking that he is with us, and then we do not find him. We do not notice that we were gradually distancing ourselves from him. Now Jesus is lost, or better still, we find ourselves lost. Jesus is present where he always is: in the house of the Father, in God’s temple, that is in ourselves.

Pray: With Mary let us cherish in our heart all these things.

Act: If you notice that you have distanced yourself from Jesus, do not lose heart! This is part of our spiritual journey that involves that there are moments when we feel that we have Jesus with us, moments when we lose Jesus, moments when we search for Jesus, moments when we find Jesus, and moments when we discover again who is Jesus for us.


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