Franco Grech osa

 

Reflections and Articles written by Fr Franco Grech osa

 


 

26th.Sunday of the Year - B

Numbers 11: 25-29; Psalm 18; James 5: 1-6; John 9: 38-43, 45,47-48

Read: John said to Jesus: “Master, we saw a man who is not one of us casting out devils in your name; and because he was not one of us, we tried to stop him”. But Jesus said: “You must not stop him; no one who works a miracle in my name is likely to speak evil of me. Anyone who is not against us is for us”.

Reflect: The Christian sometimes thinks that he is the only one walking the road shown him by Christ and this worries him; but if he were to raise his eyes, and to look around himself, he will realise that there are other generous and sincere persons walking the same road. He will be amazed and will ask himself how it is that he did not notice them earlier. It is possible that he did not notice them before because he had his eyes covered with the thick veil of being presumptuous and thinking that he was the one and only disciple.

Jealousy did not permit him to recognise the good being done by others different to him. In the Gospel we see that the apostles were proud that they belonged to a particular group. They told Jesus: “we tried to stop him because he was not one of us”. This sort of aloofness led them to believe that that those who were not of the same thinking as theirs, were Christ’s enemies. Being presumptuous because one appertains to a particular group is dangerous, because the members of such a group start thinking that only they have a saintly fervour … a fervour that, in reality, is hiding egoism, and a lack of ability to accept that good exists also outside the religious structure to which they belong. Jesus teaches us that we should take pleasure in witnessing good by whosoever this is done.

Pray: Lord help me to overcome all prejudices, exclusivity, religious exclusion. You love all of us Lord, and on every human being you shower shreds of your goodness.

Act: Stop pretending that you are unique, that only you do good, and that to be saved one needs to belong to your grouping. Do not continue thinking that all the truth is to be found in your hands! 


25th.Sunday of the Year - B

Wisdom 2: 12, 17-20; Psalm 53; James 3: 16-4: 3; Mark 9: 30-37

Read: They came to Capernaum, and when he was in the house he asked them: “What were you arguing about on the road?” They said nothing because they had been arguing which of them was the greatest. So, he sat down, called the Twelve to him and said: “If anyone wants to be first, he must make himself last of all and servant of all”. He then took a little child, set him in front of them, put his arms around him, and said to them: “Anyone who welcomes one of these little children in my name, welcomes me; and anyone who welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me”.

Reflect: “When they were in the house he asked them”. “The house” represents the Christian community. In this “House” whoever occupies the first place should discard any desire that he is the greatest. The Church is the place where everyone of us Christians recognises the gifts given him by God, and celebrates their greatness by humbly using these for the service of others. In God’s eyes, the greatest is that who resembles Christ, who is everyone’s servant (Luke 22:27).

So as to send most forcefully this message, Jesus made a significant move. He then took a little child, set him in front of them, put his arms around him, and said to them: “Anyone who welcomes one of these little children in my name”. In Jesus’ time, children were loved but were not given any importance in society. From a legal aspect they were not even recognised, and they were also considered to be impure because they lacked what was required by law.  If we keep this point in mind, we will better understand why Jesus made this gesture. Jesus wanted the community of his disciples to place at the centre of their attention the poorest of the poor, those who were not considered important in society, the emarginalized, those who were impure.

It is not easy to embrace, say, a forty-year-old person who still needs to be treated like a little child ....... one who is not well-behaved towards others, destroys other people’s lives, who is irresponsible. “To embrace” does not mean to approve the behaviour of such persons and to support their bad behaviour, but to educate, to help them mature. In our communities we find such “children”. We have to admit that the “child” is found in each and every one of us. To embrace one another is a gesture of acceptance of one another happily, with confidence, respect and with a will to be of service.

Pray: Lord, embrace us between your arms, as you did to that little child and teach us to welcome you, your thoughts, your ways.

Act: Think about the importance that God places on your attitude to serve others, and practice this in your life.


24th Sunday of the Year - B

Isiah 50: 5-9a; Psalm 114; James 2: 14-18; Mark 8: 27-35

Read: Jesus called the people and the disciples to him and said: “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me. For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for the sake of my love and the Gospel, will save it. Because what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and then to lose his life?”

Reflect: “Let him renounce himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” These are the three orders that a Christian needs to observe if one wishes to be Jesus’ disciple. When saying “let him renounce himself” Jesus means that a disciple needs to stop to think about himself. This goes against every logic of this world. Man has at the root of his heart a tendency to think about himself, that he is central to all interests, who seeks to ensure that everything is to his advantage, ignoring all others. Whoever chooses to be Jesus’ disciple is called upon to renounce his egoism and to stop making choices that are to his advantage. The disciple who stops thinking of himself loves without expecting anything back.

When Jesus says: “take up his cross”, he is not inferring that one should bear patiently the burden and pains of life as a way of pleasing Jesus. A Christian does not seek suffering, but love. The cross is a sign of God’s love and of His own reward for us.  To carry the cross after Jesus means that a disciple renders himself of service to others, indeed even if this leads to martyrdom.

When Jesus says: “follow me”, he does not mean “to imitate him” but he implies that his disciple should be a role model of his master, to play his part in that same master’s project, and to risk his life with him for the love of his brethren.

Pray: I am encircled by death, overcome by the constraints of death; I find myself burdened by sadness and stress. But I called the Lord’s name saying: “Lord, I ask you to save me!”    

Act: Think about why you walk after Christ. Are you helped by being reminded of these reasons when you find yourself suffering and having to make sacrifices to walk behind him?


23rd Sunday of the Year - B

Isiah 35: 4-7a; Psalm 145; James 2: 1-5; Mark 7: 31-37

Read: Tell those with a faint heart: “Be brave, do not be afraid! See, your God is coming to repay you; the time for this God’s benevolence has arrived; He himself is coming to save you”. Then the eyes of the blind will be opened, the ears of the deaf will be opened. Then the lame will jump up like the deer and the tongue of the dumb will be loosened with happiness. Yes, water will flow in the desert, and in the valleys and barren lands. The scorched earth will be turned into a lake and dry land will be flooded with running water.

Reflect: In the Old Testament, especially in the Book of Deuteronomy and the writings of the Prophets we always find this invitation: Listen, O Israel (Deuteronomy 6:4); “O man, stand up on your feet, so that I will talk to you” (Ezekiel 2:4); Not listening to this voice is a grave sin. The Prophet Zachariah accused his people with these words: “But they refused to take heed of my words, they gave me their back, closed their ears so that they would not hear, and they were as hard headed as diamonds so that they would not obey the words of the God who had sent his Spirit through the prophets of the past” (Zachariah 7: 11-12).

The Prophet Jeremiah called Israel: “a stupid people with no brains! They have eyes but do not see; have ears but do not hear” (Jeremiah 5:21). God expects his people to be obedient and to live according to God’s word, but he is disappointed: O man, you are amongst a hard headed people; they have eyes to see, but they do not see; they have ears to hear but do not hear; because they are a hard headed people”. These people of Israel who refused to listen could well be each and every one of us. A lack of listening to the Bible is a sign of a denial of the Word of God. This shows a person’s inclination towards other matters that are not God’s voice, and thus create confusion. This is a serious condition, but God promised to heal this.: “Tell those with a faint heart: ‘Be brave, do not be afraid! See, your God is coming to repay you; the time for this God’s benevolence has arrived; He himself is coming to save you’. Then the eyes of the blind will be opened, the ears of the deaf will be opened” (Isiah 35: 4-5).

Pray: Give me, O God, a heart ready to listen to Your word!

Act: “Open!” (Mark 7:34). Let us open our ears and give attention where necessary, be cognizant of the pleas of our brethren that are hurt, and let us listen to the message of courage given us by God. Let us loosen the tightening of our tongue so that we will learn to recognise the Lord, to give timely consolation and to be communicative so as to be of service.


22nd Sunday of the Year - B

Dew. 4: 1-2, 6-8; Psalm 14; James 1: 17-18, 21b-22.27; Mark 7: 1-8, 14-15, 21-23

Read: Jesus answered: “It was because of you hypocrites that Isiah so rightly prophesised about you, you double-faced people, as was written: ‘These people honour me only with lip-service, whilst their hearts are far from me. The worship they offer me is worthless talk; the doctrines they teach are only man’s regulations.’ Thus, you put aside God’s commandments so that you cling to human traditions.”

Reflect: The Evangelist St. Mark reminds us of these Jesus’ harsh words because St. Mark was conscious of the risk that the Church might fall for this double-faced worship, and the danger that mankind’s traditions would be considered as being God’s laws. Strict observance of clear regulations that makes mankind feel that one’s duty is being carried out by doing the least possible, by just about not breaking the rules, makes mankind feel justified before God; and, indeed, feels that God, in some way, has some obligation towards mankind.

A human being like this forgets that the essence of God’s law is based on genuine love, from one’s innermost parts, towards God and one’s neighbour. One who loves genuinely does his utmost to love even more, uses his imagination, gives attention, and is totally and unconditionally close to his neighbour.  Put simply, one goes well beyond what is expected of him. This because people’s needs change, and whoever loves, asks himself what more, or differently, needs to be done according to the needs of one’s neighbour.

Religion that comes from the heart can be practiced by those who have reached maturity and adulthood, those who can freely chose, be sincere and open to Christ’s enlightenment and to the Spirit. Those who are “still infants in Christ” (1 Cor. 3:1) are afraid of risk; they prefer to have precise and detailed rules, whilst in their heart they feel that such type of religion, based on regulations, does not permit them to be at liberty, they do not transmit happiness and internal peace, but only tension and anxiety.

Pray: Lord, who lives in your house? Whoever lives without blame and does good, whoever speaks the truth from his heart, those who do not speak badly about their neighbour. Who does not commit evil to his neighbour nor call his neighbour names; who does not esteem evil-doers, but honours those who fear the Lord. Who lends without interest, and who is not bribed against those who are blameless. Whoever does this will never be summoned. (Psalm 14)

Act: Let us empty ourselves of frivolous matters, from empty legalism, from soulless repetition. Let us praise and worship the Lord by word and deed, at all times throughout our lifetime, and in every way possible. 


21st Sunday of the Year - B

Joshua 24: 1-2a, 15-17, 18b; Psalm 33; Ephes. 5: 21-32; John 6: 60-69

Read: In those days Jesus spoke about the Bread of Life. When they heard this, many of his disciples said: “This is intolerable language! How could anyone accept it?” Jesus was aware that his followers were complaining about it and said: “Do these words upset you? What if you should see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh has nothing to offer. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. But there are some of you who do not believe.”

For Jesus knew from the outset those who do not believe, and who it was that would betray him. He went on: “This is why I told you that no one could come to me unless the Father allows him.” From that day, many of his disciples left him and stopped going with him. Then Jesus said to the Twelve: “What about you, do you want to go away too?” Simon Peter answered: “Lord, who shall we go to? You have the message of eternal life, and we believe; we know that you are the Holy One of God.”

Reflect: We are in the last part of Chapter 6 of St. John’s Gospel, a Chapter that started with the miracle of the distribution of bread and continued with Jesus’ sermon at Capernaum. The Jews who used to seek Jesus as the one who worked miracles, were now faced with a radical choice that they had to make; whether to continue living in the same way they did by adapting themselves to the wisdom of this world, and to be content with material bread, or to make a great leap in quality, by accepting the Gospel, which is the bread of life.

This a challenge with which we ourselves are being confronted by today; we need to choose in whom we believe and what we want to believe. To believe in the Gospel means to accept such words as: “That woman is not yours”; “Love your enemies”; “Give back what you have stolen”; “Do not hoard treasures on this earth”; “This is my body, this is my blood”. What are we going to do in the presence of “bread of life” like this? Are we going to say: “this is intolerable language” and to leave Jesus or, like Simon Peter, will faithfully say: “Lord, who shall we go to? You have the message of eternal life, and we believe; we know you are the Holy One of God?”

Pray: Lord, yours is the last word. Continue to talk to us ….. even if this is intolerable language. Because you alone are able to remove us from this bondage, to make great things before us, to protect us along the way.

Act: “Therefore fear the Lord, and serve Him diligently and faithfully; keep away from the gods that your forefathers worshipped beyond the river and in Egypt and serve the Lord. And if you have no wish to serve the Lord, choose today whom you wish to serve.” (Joshua 24: 14-15)

 


© 2022 agostinjani.org. All Rights Reserved.