Franco Grech osa

 

Reflections and Articles written by Fr Franco Grech osa

 


 

32nd Sunday of the Year - B

Kings 17: 10-16; Psalm 145; Heb. 9: 24-28; Mark 12: 38-44

Read: Jesus was teaching in the temple saying: “Beware of the scribes who like to walk about in long robes, to be greeted respectfully in the market squares, to take the front seats in the synagogues and the places of honour at banquets; these are the men who devour the property of widows and, for show, offer long prayers. The more severe will be the sentence they will receive.” Jesus was close to the treasury, looking and seeing what money was being placed by people in the treasury. Many rich persons put in a great deal. A poor widow came up and placed a low- value coin.; that is about two cents. He called his disciples and said to them: “In truth I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all who have contributed to the treasury. For they have all put in money they could spare, but she, in her poverty, has put in everything she possessed, all she had to live on.”

Reflect: In contrast with the scribes, who were persons who dominated society in Jesus’ time, the poor widow is a model of authentic religiosity. This woman, although she did not know Jesus, never heard his teaching, acted in an evangelical manner. Jesus used to say: “when you make an act of charity, do not blow trumpets in doing so, like those who are double-faced in the synagogues and in the streets, so as to draw praise from the people …… when you make an act of charity your left hand should not know what the right hand is doing, so that your almsgiving will remain a secret.” (Matthew 6: 1-4)

The widow is presented to us as a model of love, loving God with one’s whole heart, entire soul, entire mind and with all one’s strength, and with unconditional love towards one’s neighbour. An authentic disciple is not one who risks part of himself or of what he owns, but who offers all that he has and all his life as was done by the Lord. Perhaps we say: but that is a lack of good judgment. However, if we think more profoundly, we will realise that this is not so. These are persons who placed their hope more in God than in their own resources. They believed that God is greater than their own calculations.

Pray: Lord, filter my intentions, take from me every kind of pride, from every wish to be the subject of attention.

Act: Our only sound footing is to place our trust in God. God is concerned with those who are poor and weak in society and we should be in the forefront to help these.


31st Sunday of the Year - B

Dt. 6: 2-6; Psalm 17; Heb. 7: 23-28; Mark 12: 28-34

Read: One of the scribes came up to Jesus and asked him: “Which is the first of all the commandments?”. Jesus answered: “This is the first, listen Israel! The Lord our God is the one Lord, and you must love the Lord your God with your whole heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second one is this: you must love your neighbour as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” The scribe said to him: “Well spoken, Master; what you have said is true; that he is one God and there is no other. Yes, to love Him with all your heart, with all your understanding and strength, and to love your neighbour as yourself, this is far more important than any holocaust or sacrifice.” Jesus, seeing how wisely he had spoken, said: “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to question him anymore.

Reflect: The reply given by Jesus to the scribe is the prayer mostly recited by the people of Israel: “Listen Israel! The lord, our God, is one Lord, and you should love the Lord, your God, with your whole heart, with your whole soul and with all your entire strength.” (Deuteronomy 6:4) To this Jesus added that you should love God “with all your mind” also.  This, because whoever is incapable of evidencing his faith, cannot say that he loves God. Then Jesus added a second commandment: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” (Book of Leviticus 19:18)

Could there be a danger that someone could seriously love another person without loving God? This possibility is so remote that the Bible did not even consider it. If one loves another person, he will surely be induced by the spirit to do so, because true love emanates from God. (John 4:7) Can there be anyone who loves God and not his neighbour? Not even this is possible, because both commandments cannot be separated, because these are a manifestation of one love. (John 4:20) And who is your neighbour? Jesus makes this clear. Your neighbour is whoever finds himself in need, whether he is a friend or an enemy. (Matthew 5: 43-48)

Pray: You, Lord, my Lord and God, and my brethren, like myself your living creations, fill me with the utmost respect towards you and them. Always increase the dose of my love.

Act: Think and show in practice that you obey these two commandments. What are the implications of this? How can you completely love God? How can you love your neighbour as yourself?


30th Sunday of the Year - B

Jeremiah 31: 7-9; Psalm 125; Heb. 5: 1-6; Mark 10: 46-52

Read: As Jesus left Jericho with his disciples and a large crowd, there was a blind beggar named Bartimaeus, son of Timaeus, sitting at the side of the road. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout and say: “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me.” Many of them scolded him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the louder: “Son of David, have pity on me.” Jesus stopped and said: “Call him here.” So, they called the blind man and told him: “Courage! Get up; he is calling you.” Throwing off his cloak, he jumped up and went to Jesus. Then Jesus said to him: “What do you want me to do for you?” “Rabbuni”, the blind man said to him: “Master, let me see again.” Jesus said to him: “Go; your faith has saved you.” And immediately his sight returned and he followed him along the road.”

Reflect: Once Jesus admonished his disciples saying: “Do you still not understand, still not realise? How hard-headed can you be? You have eyes and yet cannot see?” (Mark 8:17-18) In today’s extract from the Gospel, Bartimaeus likens the disciple who finally opens his eyes to the light of his Master and decides to continue “following him along the road”. Bartimaeus’ meeting with Christ makes him throw off his cloak …… his only possession.

This means that he was no longer interested in the sort of life he had been living until then. His meeting with Christ and his light placed him in a difficult situation. Before that Bartimaeus was sitting, now he began to walk; before he had “his profession” of a beggar which, good or bad, provided for his food, now he had to find a way of living an altogether new way of life; before he had a place where to live amongst people known to him and with his friends; now he had to venture afield and this seemed risky.

Anyone wishing to come to Christ should not delude himself by thinking that he will be leading a comfortable life without any worries. Bartimaeus’ experience shows us that the  walk awaited by those who receive the light is not an easy one; this makes the one concerned change what he is used to do, his behaviour and his friendships. This demands that one’s life, time and possessions are conducted in a radically new way. Whoever wishes to be enlightened by Christ needs to choose between his old cloak and the light.

Pray: Jesus is also asking you: ““What do you want me to do for you?” Bartimaeus first asked for mercy, and then asked to be healed. What are you going to ask for? Your immediate needs ……. or firstly you are going to ask him to increase your faith in him, in his power, in his love?

Act: With a view to our recognizing our failings, and to ask the Lord to show us His light, we need to admit that we are all, in some way or another, “blind”. Then we will be able to throw off our “cloak” and to choose a new life lightened by Christ.


29th.Sunday of the Year - B

Isaiah 53: 10-11; Psalm 32 (33); Heb. 4: 14-16; Mark 10: 35-45

Read: James and John, the sons of Zebedee, approached Jesus and said to him: “Master, we want you to give us what we ask for.” He said to them: “What is it you want me to do for you?” They replied: “Allow us to sit one at your right hand and the other at your left in your glory.” But Jesus told them: “You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I must drink, or be baptised with what I must be baptised?” They replied: “We can.” Jesus then said to them: “The cup that I must drink you shall drink, and with the baptism with which I must be baptised you will be baptised but, as for seats at my right hand or my left, these are not mine to grant; they belong to those to whom they have been allotted.”

When the other ten heard this, they began to feel indignant with James and John. Jesus called them (the Twelve) to him and said to them: “You know that among the pagans their so-called rulers lorded it over them, and their great men make their authority felt. This is not to happen among you but whoever wants to become great among you must be everyone’s servant. For the Son of Man himself did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Reflect: On his way to Jerusalem to suffer his Passion and death, Jesus was faced with a request from two of his disciples for something which they considered to be theirs by right: “Allow us to sit one at your right hand and the other at your left in your glory.” Not even before death did they stop dreaming of their glory! This sheer arrogance shows where lies man’s ambition and what his commands could lead to! The other ten took exception to that request made to Jesus because they were afraid that he would prefer the other two disciples. He explained to them the ideal that the disciples should imitate is that of a servant. In the same way that He “did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many”, thus should his disciples act. Anyone who wishes to follow Jesus the Master is regarded as being everybody’s servant.

Pray: Lord, always let it be that we combine our own wishes with yours and that we fulfil your will with a clean heart.


28th.Sunday of the Year - B

Wisdom 7: 7-11; Psalm 89; Heb. 4: 12-13; Mark 10: 17-30

Read: Jesus was setting out on a journey to Jerusalem when a man ran up to him, knelt before him, and said to him: “Good master, what must I do to inherit eternal life? Jesus said to him: “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: You must not kill; You must not commit adultery; You must not steal; You must no bring false witnesses; You must no defraud; Honour your father and mother.” And he answered: “Master I have kept all these from my earliest days. ”Then Jesus looked steadily and lovingly at him and told him: “There is one thing you lack. Go and sell everything you own and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come follow me.” But his face fell at these words and he went away sad, for he was a man of great wealth.

Jesus then looked around and said to his disciples: “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the Kingdom of God!” The disciples were astounded by these words, but Jesus repeated: “How hard it is my children to enter the Kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.” They were more astounded than ever, and said one to another: “Who can be saved?” Jesus gazed at them and said: “For men it is impossible, but not for God; because everything is possible for God.”

Reflect: Last Monday was the feast of St. Francis of Assisi. St. Francis once said: “Remember that when you depart this life you will not take with you anything that you will have received, but only what you will have given.” These words of St. Francis embody the entire message of God’s word for today. How appropriate this message is for today’s human beings who appear to appreciate all that is touched – one’s profession, scientific research, friendship, family and sometimes also religion, so long as this produces money.

Jesus’ proposal which was made lovingly to this young man can be interpreted as follows: “Dispose of all you own, do not throw it away, but give it to those in need. You will remain poor and God will be your treasure.” This proposal which God made to each of his disciples demands that those concerned do not continue to make egoistic use of not only their money, but their intelligence; health; time; all capabilities received from God. One cannot be a disciple of God if one holds on to his wealth, and is not ready to share all he owns with those in need.

Pray: Lord, shed on us a look of love. Heal our heart that remains eager to possess even more. We thank you and praise you for life, happiness, and the health given us through the money we own. We ask forgiveness for all the damage and harmfulness made by us not only to ourselves but also to others.

Act: Happiness is sown only in a heart that is unburdened and full of all that nurtures life! Thus, it is necessary that you are prepared to share everything so as to have everything: “Verily do I tell you that all those who, because of me and the Gospels, leave their home or their brethren or their mother or father, or their children or their fields, there is nobody amongst these who, from this moment, in this very world, will not receive, more than one hundred times: houses, brethren, male and female, mothers, children and fields together with persecutions, and a future life everlasting.


27th.Sunday of the Year - B

Gen. 2: 18-24; Psalm 127 (128); Heb. 2: 9-11; Mark 10: 2-16

Read: Some Pharisees approached Jesus and asked if it is against the law for a man to leave his wife.  He replied: “What did Moses command you?” They told him: “Moses allowed us to draw a writ of divorce”. Then Jesus said to them: “It was because you were so hard of heart that he wrote this commandment. But, from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. This why a man must leave father and mother, and the two become one body. They are no longer two, therefore, but one body. So then, what God has united, man must not divide.” Back in the house, the disciples questioned him again about this, and he said to them: “The man who leaves his wife and marries another is guilty of adultery againt his first wife; and if a woman leaves her husband and marries another, she is guilty of adultery too.”

They brought to him some little children for his blessing, but his disciples started shouting at them. When Jesus saw this, he was angry and told them: “Let the little children come to me; don’t keep them away from me, because the Kingdom of God is for the likes of them. Verily I tell you that, whoever does not welcome the Kingdom of God like a little child, will not enter there”.  Then he embraced them, placed his hand on them, and blessed them.

Reflect: There are situations when a married couple give thought to the advisability of renewing a relationship that has gone sour and seems to be beyond retrieval. Married persons who no longer love one another, with incompatible characters, talk only to offend one another and their children are also involved in the failure of their parents’ marriage. What sense is there in such a couple continuing to live together?  Is it possible that God asks for the continuation of such a marriage that has become a form of torture? Is it no better that both parties go their own way and start a new life? Mankind’s quick and logical answer to these questions is to opt for divorce as being the best solution. If so many couples separate after only a few years of marriage, can two chose to continue to live together? If matters do not go well in marriage, is it not better that everybody goes his own way without any more problems?

There is no division greater than the division of the ethics of sexuality, where mankind is tempted to create one’s own standards of morality, and therefore the salt of the Gospels loses its taste with a lot of “buts”, “ifs”, “notwithstanding” and “depending”. It is necessary that one becomes like a little child so that the person concerned enters the Kingdon of Heaven, so as to understand Christ’s difficult proposition. It is only those who feel themselves childlike, who believes in the love of the Father and trusts Him, who can accept God’s thoughts. Not everybody can understand God’s thoughts, “but those to whom the key is given” (Mt. 19:11), not those endowed with wisdom and intellect, but the little ones (Mt. 11:25).

Pray: Lord, teach us to welcome your Kingdom with the heart of a little child without evil, confidently, so as to recognise what you wanted from the beginning; so that what you have put together will not be put asunder by us by ignoring Your plan resulting in great damage to ourselves. Do not keep far away from you those who are confused and at a loss.

Act: Write down some of the blessings that you notice within your family and thank God for these. When you are faced with a moment of trial, look up what you had written and remember God’s fidelity.


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