Franco Grech osa

 

Reflections and Articles written by Fr Franco Grech osa

 


 

5th Sunday of Lent

Jer. 31: 31-34; Psalm 50; Heb. 5: 7-9; John 12:20-33

Read: “In those days, amongst those that went up to Jerusalem to worship God at the festival were some Greeks. They approached Philip …. and put this request to him ‘Sir, we would like to see Jesus.’” And Jesus replied to them: ”Now the hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you most solemnly, unless a wheat grain falls on the ground and dies, it remains only a single grain; but if it dies it yields a rich harvest.”

Reflect: “We would like to see Jesus”. This was not simply a case of curiosity to see he who all were looking for because he had brought back Lazarus from the dead. In the Gospel according to John, the verb ‘to see’ means to get to know well a person. These Greeks were not interested in the Jesus’ features, how he was dressed nor how he presented himself. What they wished was to get to know his identity and whether he was able to give them a new meaning of their lives. By what he said, Jesus shows them who he really was. He makes a proposition which, for the Greek mentality, and probably for us also as today’s beings, appears to be an absurd proposition: life reaches its acme when it is enveloped in love. He is the first to offer himself, and this is his glory. Jesus explains to the Greeks and to us, what is the true glory: “if a wheat grain does not fall on the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it yields a rich harvest”.

Pray: Teach us Lord so that, like you, obedient to the will of the Father, we give ourselves to You and to our brethren.

Act: Let us be on our guard that we do not fall for the subtle temptation that we find ourselves carrying out religious practices without being truly close to Christ in our faith. That we do not content ourselves only with prayer, rituals and celebrations and even through these …….. we do the least possible and with doubts. The face that Jesus shows us of himself, demands from us a total commitment. His proposition “is a scandal to the Jews and foolishness to the Greeks”. (1 Corint. 1:22), but the fact remains that it is only that person who, like Jesus, dies for his brethren is, according to God, successful.


4th Sunday of Lent

2 Chron. 36: 14-16, 19-23; Psalm 136; Eph. 2: 4-10; John 3:14-21

Read: God did not send His Son in this world to judge the world, but so that the world would be saved by Him.

Reflect: “From there He shall come to judge the living and the dead”. That is what we acknowledge when we say the Apostles’ Creed. However, did we ever ask ourselves what is meant by “from there He shall come”?  When we say “From there, from where?” Probably we did not ask this question, because the answer seems obvious to us. He is to come back from the heavens. The Risen Christ promised to be with His disciples “always till the end of time” Mat. 28:20). This means that we need not wait until He returns, and the throne on which He sits to make judgment, should not be in heaven but on this earth. Where? And here lies the surprise; it is from the cross that He will judge the world.  It is Jesus Crucified that went against the expectations and values of this world. He judges these losses as winners, service as power, poverty as wealth, losses as gains, humility as a victory, and death as a birth. Let us look towards Christ Crucified because only He says the truth regarding that should be made by mankind. We should accept and follow only His truth. The truth of the Cross should not create fear in us. This indeed is the greatest condemnation of evil. However, this the reason why the sinner should be happy and hopeful. From the Cross also we hear Jesus telling us” “I have not come to condemn the world, but to save it” (John 12:47).

Pray: O Crucified Jesus, give us the grace not to fear the judgment of mankind, but to go along with your judgment!

Act: Let us move near the light so that we will show that God is in all we do, by doing what is good.


3rd Sunday of Lent

Ex. 20: 1-17; Psalm 18; 1Cor. 1: 22-25; John 2:13-25

Read: The Jews then told Jesus: “What sign can you show us to justify that you are able to do that?” Jesus replied: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will rebuild it”. The Jews replied: “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking of the temple of his body.

Reflect: What Jesus did in the temple in today’s Gospel reading is not only a correction of the abuses that were taking place in the temple of Jerusalem, but is an announcement that the temple’s time had passed, meaning the assured presence of God and salvation. Our meeting with God will no longer be in one particular place, but in a new temple: the body of the resurrected Jesus.

When He raised His Son from the dead, the Father placed the cornerstone of this new sanctuary. St. Peter exhorted the new baptised that they would be baptised in Christ: “Draw near to him, who is a living stone that was discarded by the builders, but chosen by God as the beloved stone. And all of you likewise, like a living stone, build in a spiritual house, a sacred priesthood, so that you will offer spiritual sacrifices pleasing to God through Jesus Christ”. (1 Peter 2:4-5).

The only sacrifices acceptable to God are acts of love; generous service to others, especially to the poor, sick, alienated persons; those that are hungry and those that have nothing with which to clothe themselves. The one who stands by his brother so as to serve him, will be making a priestly gesture: together with Christ, God’s temple, that leads to heaven that sweet fragrance of an offering which is pure and sacred.

Pray: In celebrating the Eucharist, Lord, you give us an assurance of heavenly things that are still hidden from our eyes, and even on this earth You fill us with spiritual food; we humbly ask You that what takes place within us under the veil of mystery, we carry out through our good deeds.

Act: “Do not forget to do good to others, and to share between yourselves what you have, because God will be delighted with such sacrifices”. (Jews 13:16)


2nd Sunday of Lent – Year B

Gen. 22: 1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18; Psalm 115; Rom. 3: 31b-34; Mark 9: 2-10

Read: Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain where they could be alone by themselves, and he was transfigured. His clothes became dazzling white ……. then a cloud came covering them and covered them, and there came a voice from the cloud saying: ”This is my Beloved Son, listen to him”.

Reflect: In this extract from today’s Gospel relating the Transfiguration, Jesus shows his beauty and glory so that whoever is following him, every disciple, is attracted to him, and does not remain suffering. Because the reality is that, to live as a true Christian, many times you need to suffer.  And because Jesus knows that we easily lose heart, when we are persecuted because we do good, today he shines before us with a dazzling light, so that we continue following him, notwithstanding that we need to carry our cross. When the Lord becomes a living person in our life, notwithstanding our suffering, our heart continues to be drawn towards him with the power of the Holy Spirit because, as St. Paul tells us in his letter to the Romans, “If God is on our side, who can be against us?” When we feel that we are losing heart, let us look towards the dazzling face of Jesus.

Pray: Lord you created us so as to enjoy, be joyful, to take pleasure with your marvellous presence. However, until we reach our own Tabor, we need to go up to Calvary with your son; but we need your help and to see to what extent we need your support when we get tired.

Act: Let us do our utmost that, during this Lent, we familiarise ourselves more with the Word of God, by reading and reflecting on extracts from the Bible; participating more in the Mass; attending Spiritual Exercises; following even more God’s Word through social media. It is in this manner that we will be listening to Jesus, so that he will continue to encourage us to be truly his disciples.


1st Sunday of Lent

Gen. 9: 8-15; Psalm 24; 1 Pt. 3: 18-22; Mark 1: 12-15

Read: “I will set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant I make between myself and the earth. When I gather the clouds over the earth and the bow appears in the clouds, I will recall the covenant between myself and you and every living creature of every kind. And so the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all things of flesh.”

“The time has come and the Kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent, and believe the Gospel”.

Reflect: The sacred author of the Book of Genesis makes use of the story of the great flood of the time of Noah., not to teach that God loses His patience and punishes – God never brought about the flooding nor any other disaster – but to encourage us not to lose heart in the face of the evil that exists in this world. Even when evil appears to surpass all limits, man that has faith in God will still have hope, because he knows that God decided to create human nature afresh, not from the ashes of man, but from the destruction of the evil society created by man. God does not lose heart in the face of evil. He mends and builds afresh. He starts a new humanity and promises only good things and every blessing: “I will make a new covenant with you, that never will any living creature be destroyed by flood waters; and never will there be a flood to ruin the earth”. God does not vouch that He will not punish mankind on condition that he does not sin again. However, He committed Himself that He would give His blessing always and in every case. This is a message of consolation that the Bible sends from its very first chapter: God does not wait for mankind to become good before He is generous with all. He greets every person as it is, and with love; changes that person to a new creation.

Pray: “Let me God, open my mouth in the presence of your mercy, though I am dust and ashes. Let me therefore, speak because it is your mercy that I will be talking to, and not to a person who will scold me. Probably, initially You will think of scolding me but then You turn to me mercifully”. (St. Augustine, Confessions 1,6)

Act: Confident that this God approaches us as we are, let us therefore accept Jesus’ invitation in the Gospel: “God’s Kingdom has come; repent and believe the Gospel”.  Let us do this by, during Lent, by depriving ourselves of something to be given to the poor; reading and reflecting on, in advance, the readings that will be accompanying Mass; trying to make an act of charity daily; praying for our neighbour; and using all means that could bring us closer to God’s mercy.


6th Sunday of the year – Year B

Lev. 13:1-2, 45-46; Psalm 31; 1 Cor. 10:3-11; Mark 1:40-45

Read: A leper came up to Jesus and pleaded fervently, fell on his knees before him and said “You can cure me if you wish!”. Feeling sorry for him, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him saying “Of course I want to, be cured!”

Reflect: Our God nears those who are lepers spiritually ….. sinners, he gets close to those who are psychological lepers through sadness, solitude, tension, fear; he approached also those who are lepers physically …… every kind of sickness. On these the Lord places his hand, because for him none of his earthly beings is a leper, more so his children, human beings. Jesus chose those who were lepers and abandoned by everybody; for this reason, “he took on himself all our illnesses”. To do so, he was led away to be crucified and killed outside the Holy City, in a place considered not to be holy. Therefore, if we fell in any way tainted by any form of ‘leprosy’, let us have the courage to say to the Lord: “You can cure me if you wish!”. And Jesus will also tell us: “Of course I want to, be cured!”

Pray: O Lord, you can interpret our inner feelings. We harbour fears, suffer sickness, also are sinful, and even lose heart. If you wish you can heal us! Come near us.  You, who are full of mercy. Talk to us, touch us and heal us. Make us the same as the healed leper, making your mercy known to all.

 Act: As we have seen, Jesus did not reject lepers; he used to cure them. He does the same with us. But he used to ask two things of them. That they approach him full of faith, and that they show themselves to the priests, as evidence of their healing. He asks the same from us. Let us approach our Lord with faith, seeking from a priest in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, so that, in the name of God, he will give us the grace of healing, by bringing to us God’s forgiveness.

 


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