Franco Grech osa

 

Reflections and Articles written by Fr Franco Grech osa

 


 

Pentecost Sunday – Year C

Acts 2: 1-11; Psalm 103; Rm. 8:8-17; Jn 14: 15-16; 23b-26

Read: “When Pentecost Day came around, they had all met in one room. They were filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak foreign languages as the Spirit gave them the gift of speech.”

Reflect: In this feast of Pentecost Sunday, we celebrate the gift to us of the Resurrection; the Holy Spirit. Thus, Jesus kept his promise that never will his disciples be left alone. This gift was given to the disciples in the context of the Jewish Pentecost feast. In that feast the Jews used to commemorate when they were in the desert after being released from bondage under the Egyptians, and they arrived near mount Sinai where they were given the ten commandments.

When St. Luke says in the Acts of the Apostles that the Spirit descended on the disciples on Pentecost Sunday, he wanted to show how this Spirit changed the old law into the new Christian law. On that day the Lord decided to change the hearts of mankind so that, with a new heart, they would no longer have the need for an external law. Man could start loving with the love of God himself with which his heart is filled. Everyone who allows himself to be guided by the Gospels and by the Holy Spirit learns one language which everybody understands; the law of love.

Pray: Holy Spirit, come within us, give us a ray of light, breath this in our soul from heaven … O blessed light of holiness, I pray that the hearts of all faithful are filled with you. Without your light that leads us we will remain without hope, nothing will be serene in what we do.

Act: Every day of this week pray that the Holy Spirit fills you anew and helps you live in a way that pleases Jesus. Only he, with the help of the Holy Spirit, can we love and serve Jesus in a way that he wishes.


The Ascension of the Lord (7th Sunday of Easter) – Year C

Acts 1: 1-11; Psalm 46; Hb. 9: 24-28; Lq. 24: 46-53

Read: “Now as he blessed them, he withdrew from them and was carried up to heaven.”

Reflect: What is the meaning of the feast that we are celebrating today? The Lord’s ascension into heaven signifies Jesus being glorified in the Father. He went there so as to prepare for us a place where He himself will be so as to be with Him. Jesus left our world not because he was annoyed or got tired of us, but so as in the future we will be happy with him. Today’s feast will someday be our feast. Only a few are looking forward to this with keenness.

We too are closely associated with this feast on earth. Is this true? The Lord understands us and has compassion on us. Everyone complains about this world but nobody wants to leave it. We enjoy working! But instead of grumbling it is better that we involve ourselves so that, even from this world, the Kingdom of God is manifested.

Within our smaller or larger circles, enlightened and encouraged by God’s Spirit, we must commit ourselves to live the values of God’s Kingdom; to exercise justice; love and peace. Until we reach the stage of enjoying God’s Kingdom in heaven we need to live as a people full of hope in God.

A final point: when we say that Jesus was carried up to heaven, and was glorified in the Father and was taken away from us, does not mean that he left us alone. “You will gain strength when the Holy Spirit descends on you.” The Lord told us not to be afraid of difficult situations because he will be with us through His Spirit who will show us how to handle such situations in the light of His own teachings.

Act: Lord, make me wait for you until you come again in glory to take me away with you for ever; to enjoy being with you face to face without ever being separated, and without anything impinging on our closeness.

Pray: In our interest in politics, the economy, culture and in all that is human, let our faith be reflected in a better and everlasting life, a life which the Lord went to prepare for us when he went near the Father.

 

 


6th Sunday of Easter

Acts 15:1-2, 22-29; Psalm 66; Rv. 21: 10-14, 22-23; Jn. 14: 23-29

Read: Jesus said to his disciples: “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and the Father will love him, and we shall come to him and make our home with him. Those who do not love me do not keep my words. And my word is not my own; it is the word of who sent me. I have said these things to you while still with you; but the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all I have said to you.

Peace I bequeath to you, my own peace I give you, a peace the world cannot give, this is my gift to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. You heard me say: I am going away, and shall return. If you loved me, you would have been glad to know that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. I have told you this now before it happens; so that when it does happen, you may believe.”

Reflect: Jesus said all he had to say; he did not omit anything. However, it is essential that the Spirit continues to teach. Jesus was unable to explain all the consequences and how should be applied in practice his message: “Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” Jesus reassures the disciples that they will always find an answer to all the questions with which they will be confronted and the circumstances that will arise in life. They will be able to give answers in accordance with his teaching if they learn how to listen to his word and to maintain their soul in harmony with the Spirit present in them. The disciples need a lot of courage to go along with His instructions, because many times He asks for a change in direction in which they are heading. But the Spirit does not teach anything but Jesus’ Gospel. The Spirit teaches in a dynamic way, becomes an internal impulse, leads in the correct direction, stimulates goodness, leads to decisions that are consistent with the Gospels.

The second role of the Holy Spirit is to remind us. There are many words that were said by Jesus that, notwithstanding the fact that they do appear in the Gospels, there is a risk that these are forgotten or are not mentioned. This happens especially in the case of those evangelical proposals that are not easily comprehended because these appear to run counter to the world’s common sense. For example, how is it possible that Christ’s disciples can forget the Lord’s words that prohibit all forms of violence towards their brethren? But this is something that often happens. Here comes in the Holy Spirit to remind the disciples of Jesus’ words: “Love your enemies; do good to whoever hates you; bless whoever curses you; pray for those who treat you badly.” (Lq.6:27-29)

Act: Lord, hasten to send us the Spirit Defender to remind us of the attitudes which you yourself tried to teach us.

Pray: In your walk towards blessedness, embrace with you the Holy Spirit by praying more. Live the fruit of such prayer: love; happiness; tolerance; gentleness; goodness.


5th Sunday of Easter

Acts 14:21-27; Psalm 144; Rv. 21: 1-5a; Jn. 13: 31-33a, 34-35

Read: When Judas left the cenacle, Jesus said: “Now has the son of Man been glorified, and in him God has been glorified. If God has been glorified in him, God will in turn glorify him in himself, and will glorify him very soon. My children, I shall not be with you much longer. I give you a new commandment, to love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also must love one another. By this love you have for one another, everyone will know that you are my disciples.”

Reflect: In this Gospel reading the word “glorified” features several times. For us, the word “glorified” or “to be glorified” means that one gains the approval and praise of others. For Jesus, these words have another meaning. Jesus was glorified when Judas left the meal so as to make a deal with the high priests as to how to corner the Master. It is Jesus who goes to his passion and death, who gave up himself into the hands of those who wanted to kill him, who was nailed to the cross, in whom God’s glory was shown. Jesus makes clear what his glory consists of: “Now the hour has come for the son of Man to be glorified …..unless a wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains a single grain, but if it dies, it yields a rich harvest.” (Jn. 12:23-24)

His glory is the moment when he shows the world how great is God’s love for man by giving his life for mankind. This is the only type of glory that he promised also to his disciples. Therefore, if we really wish to be true disciples of Jesus, we need to seek the type of Jesus’ glory … that which emerges from giving ourselves to others lovingly.

Pray: All your creatures shall thank you, Lord, and your faithful shall bless you. They shall speak of the glory of your kingship and tell of your might. (Psalm 144)

Act: The Lord tells us “Just as I have loved you, you also must love one another.” And how did He love? He continued loving Judas who betrayed him, Peter who denied him, the Apostles who abandoned him. True love does not look to one’s shortcomings, but to one’s needs.


4th Sunday of Easter

Acts 13:14, 43-52; Psalm 99; Rv. 7: 9, 14b-17; Jn. 10: 27-30

Read: Jesus said: “The sheep that belong to me listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life; they will never be lost and no one will ever steal them from me. The Father who gave them to me is greater than anyone, and no one can steal from the Father. The Father and I are one.”

Reflect: “The sheep that belong to me listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me”. How are we going to recognise the voice of the true shepherd amongst the many voices that we hear daily? We need to train our ears to listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd. Whoever listens to just one person and for a few minutes, and then for a whole year does not listen to him at all, finds it difficult to distinguish between the voice of that person in a crowd of people. Whoever listens to the Gospel only once a year will not learn how to recognise the Lord’s voice that is talking to him.

But let us state the obvious, it is not easy to place our trust in Jesus because he does not promise successes or victories. But he asks you to be a gift, he asks you not to see advantages for your own sake, he asks you to give your life to him and to your brethren. Nonetheless – he assures you – that this is the only way that leads to eternal life: “And I will give you eternal life.” So as to reach this eternal life, there are no shortcuts; whoever points you in other directions will be deceiving you and will lead you to death.

Pray: Who like you Lord, is concerned about me? Who is anxious to get to know me as much as you do? Recognise me Lord …and continue to have mercy on me.

Act: “The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want.” When we hear His voice, let us take David’s advice which is: “I place my life in the hands of the Lord so that His will be done.”


3rd Sunday of Easter

Acts 5: 27-32, 40b-41; Psalm 29; Rv. 5: 11-14; Jn. 21: 1-19

Read: Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and it happened like this: Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee and two more of his disciples were together. Simon Peter said: “I am going fishing.” They replied: “We will come with you.” They went out and got into the boat but caught nothing that night.

The following morning at daybreak Jesus stood on the shore though the disciples did not realise that it was Jesus. He called out: “Have you caught anything friends?” When they answered “No”, he said: “Throw the net out to starboard and you will find something.” So, they dropped the net, and there were so many fish that they could not haul it in! The disciple Jesus loved said to Pater: “It is the Lord.” Simon Peter, who had practically nothing on, wrapped his cloak around himself and jumped into the water. The other disciples, as they were not far away from land but only about one hundred yards afar, came close to help drag the net full of fish.

Reflect: In our parishes and churches, how many times do we make ambitious pastoral programmes; in our families we make use of the latest psychological techniques so as always better to educate our children; we make every effort, make plans ….. but this notwithstanding, we know that that even our best efforts are not always successful.

It is possible that, in our lives, something similar to that experienced by the seven disciples in today’s gospel reading happens to us. After Easter they went fishing; they were experienced fishermen and had willpower. They worked throughout the night, but did not catch anything. Their efforts produced no results; they acted in the dark without the light of the Word of the Risen Christ. And this is what we sometimes do.

At times, what Jesus tells us, the Word appears, according to our own mind, not to make any sense, remote from any logic, seemingly contrary to common sense; for example, when Jesus tells us things such as to work for peace without the use of violence, or not to turn aside our face, to love our enemy, to be poor in spirit …. these are instances where such advice seems absurd to us, the same as was the advice to the apostles to drop their nets in the sea during daylight. But the choice is between having faith in Jesus and in his words and you will have an effective result, or for one to be hard-headed and to muddle through without concluding anything.  

Pray: Without You, Lord, without your Word, we are unable to do anything.

Act: “Do whatever He tells you.” (Jn. 2:5)


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