Fr Silvio’s Homily – 13th Sunday in Year A: Hospitality for the sake of the Kingdom of God.

13th Sunday in Year A: Hospitality for the sake of the Kingdom of God. 

 

The woman was rich, wife of one of the elders in town.  She had a special gift, a gift of perception, and could see and understand what was not written, not obvious to people.  She became aware that there was something special about this man passing through town, and realised that he was a prophet, a man of God.  And so, she invited him to dine with her and her husband.  Not once, but many times. Extendingher hospitality, she also prepared a place for him to stay when he was in town, expecting nothing in return.  

She showed great hospitality and generosity by sacrificing her time and some money for the sake of the Lord’s mission.  Serving the prophet was serving the Lord as well, after all.   Her actions did not go unnoticed by the prophet.   Having no children, she was promised a son, and thus her and her husband’s line did not come to an end.   Through her sacrifice and generosity, which she showed because he was a man of God, she and her family received new life. She was blessed because of her hospitality.  This is the story we read in today’s first reading.  Elisha was the prophet.  Unfortunately we do not know her name. 

 

In the Gospel reading from Matthew, we find Jesus insisting on the very fact that “anyone who welcomes you welcomes me”, and adding that “those who welcome me welcome the one who sent me.”  These are very significant words indeed.  He is reminding us that when we serve others, especially those who are serving the Lord, we are serving the Lord himself. Hospitality to others is hospitality to Our Lord himself.    To note, He does have the habit ofhiding in the people one would least expect.

“If anyone gives so much as a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is a disciple, then I tell you solemnly, he will most certainly not lose his reward.” (Mt 10:42)

 

Hospitality comes in various shades and degrees.  A hospitality that expects payment or something else in return is fair enough by human standards.  It is the transaction of business.  This is what the hospitality business is all about.  

But true hospitality for the sake of the kingdom of God is something different.  It is the attitude of a true welcome, done not for the sake of receiving something in return, but for the sake of God’s love and generosity.  If I truly see the face of Jesus in the one who is asking for my hospitality and generosity, then I know that what I am doing, I am doing for and to Jesus himself.   

It is God himself who will repay.  In another part of the gospel we find Jesus telling us that the reward will be a 100 times over.  And mind you, it is not for the sake of receiving a 100 times over that we need to be generous.  It is for the sake of being generous to the little ones (not necessarily in size or age), the disciples of the Lord.  We become the instruments by which He would be serving His little ones, His disciples.  So, a glass of water, a sandwich, a good word, a smile, a helping hand, and many other ways of showing care, if they are done genuinely and with love, are all acts of love coming from the Lord himself, who invites us to work hand in hand with Him. 

 

St. Benedict, born in 480 AD, is one of Christianity great saints.   By the time he died in 543 AD, he had established numerous monasteries and centres of spirituality. Hospitality is one of the cornerstones of Benedictine spirituality, and it is based on seeing Christ in the guest, just as he is seen in the monks. In the Rule of St. Benedict, a pattern of life that the monks were expected to adhere to in the monastery, Benedict dedicated a whole chapter to the reception of guests.  Benedict recalled that Christ told his disciples that their service and disservice to others would also be directed at him, and therefore “Let all guests who arrive (at the monastery) be received as Christ, because He will say: ‘I was a stranger and you took Me in’ (Mt 25:35). Let due honour be shown to all (including) wayfarers.”  In a Benedictine monastery, a separate kitchen and two brother monks were devoted to serve guests, even if it meant they had to skip prayers to attend to their guests. 

We too are called to be hospitable.  There are so many ways in which we can practice Christian hospitality, which in a way is synonymous with Christian charity. We need not think big.   It can be… 

 as simple as making a sandwich or some cookies for a homeless person; 
 helping at a food kitchen, homeless shelter, or halfway house.
 welcoming into your home a scared young mother or foster child, who needs some stability and a safe place to stay.

Through these, and many other acts of charity, we are not just loving the persons involved; we are loving Christ.

 

Jesus instructs his closest disciples that following him is no easy matter.  It means being ready to give preference to him, over many other things, opportunities, and people in their and our lives.  In the gospel we have read, written in an age when the greatest asset a person had was his or her family, He describes as “not worthy of me”, those who prefer mother or father, son or daughter to him.  These words may be disconcerting.  But they should not be, because truly loving Jesus also means loving parents, children, brothers, sisters, friends and all neighbours.  

Jesus continues to say that those who are worthy of him will take up their cross and follow him, who is carrying his own cross.  Jesus does not dump his cross upon us.  He is not paternalistic, either.  He invites us to carry our cross and follow him.   

Thinking about it… we admire those people who care for others, who are willing to give of themselves, make sacrifices, miss out on many pleasures, and dedicate their whole life, for the sake of the ones they love.   They do it for love.  God will never forget such love, and when the time comes, He will repay, in His own way, with greater love. 

 

 

Fr Silvio

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Zechariah 9:9-10; Psalm 144(145):1-2,8-11,13-14; Romans 8:9,11-13; Matthew 11:25-30.

Reflection:

In today’s gospel reading Jesus speaks of himself as ‘gentle and humble of heart,’ inviting us to take on his ‘easy yoke’ and his ‘light burden.’ The first reading from the prophet Zechariah describes the humble king who in his triumph comes into the city riding on a donkey. Jesus claimed this image for himself on Palm Sunday.

In our liturgy we celebrate this ‘gentle and humble heart’ of Jesus. The heart is a symbol of God’s love for us all. God who wants to show himself to us that we can engage in a deep loving relationship with him.

In his homilies, Joseph De Piro reflects on Jesus ‘God like us’ in the incarnation, ‘God with us’ in his suffering, ‘God in us’in the Eucharist, and ‘God for us’ in his Sacred Heart. De Piro’s reflections on ‘God for us’ could be a good meditation on Jesus’ ‘gentle and humble heart.’

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Further Readings:

De Piro experienced the Sacred Heart of Jesus as the dwelling place of divine love that is continuously saving us.

“Where did the divine love dwell when it came down from heaven?”

“It lived in the Sacred Heart, the most noble part of humanity united to divinity; the Sacred Heart of Jesus …. As the rudder guides the ship, so does the divine heart, full of love and descending from heaven; it guides the thoughts, words and actions of Jesus. In the scriptures we have the most beautiful tribute: ‘he went about doing good.’ (Acts 10:38)”

Even if Jesus had not died on the cross, there would still have been a place for the devotion to the Heart of Jesus:

“It was enough for our salvation, for the Sacred Heart of Jesus, to produce the blood that animated Jesus’ body, making it possible for him to perform both human and divine actions. Every one of Our Lord Jesus’ free actions had infinite value, and could have redeemed us without any suffering ….”

However, the suffering of this Sacred Heart perfectly reveals Jesus’ love.

“It is the same with Jesus. Tell him that he did not have to go all the way for us; that he could have saved a at least single drop of blood that filled his divine heart; he would not!”

On 22nd August 1916, De Piro wrote to Cardinal Filippo Giustini, prefect of the Congregation of Rites, requesting to present the members of his young society under the title of mission. In his letter De Piro wrote:

“Since the very beginning, each day has brought with it its heavy burdens and sufferings. Disappointments and humiliations have not been lacking; three very promising students for the future of the society, have left. Yet Divine Providence has not failed to lighten my burdens; mixing these moments of desolation with ones of sweet consolation.”

On 3rd October 1932 the founder celebrated the laying and the blessing of the foundation stone of the Motherhouse, St Agatha’s. In his welcoming speech he said:

“‘Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labour in vain.’ (Ps 127:1)

Without any reservation, these divine words have enkindled in us total trust in God’s help. Moreover, they have strengthened our faith in the first movement of the Principal Agent. These words have been chosen and placed at the beginning of the rules which guide the new missionary society which gathers us here, for the benefit of its increase and prosperity. It is just as fitting and worthy to remember these words today.

Your Grace, as everyone knows, God’s initiatives – not human endeavours – carry difficulties as a sign and an ornament. For about fourteen years, there have been many difficulties, one after another, in this work we have undertaken; any person would have readily given up. Since it is God who has been working at this task, his servants have never lacked courage. Like a firm, sweet breeze, God’s Spirit … blew in the sails of our poor boat, troubled by the waves.”

 

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2 Kings 4:8-11,13-16; Psalm 88(89):2-3,16-19; Romans 6:3-4,8-11; Matthew 10:37-42.

Reflection:

One of the themes that runs through today’s readings, linking the first reading from the second book of Kings to the gospel according to Matthew, is Jesus’ instruction to welcome prophets who come, speaking God’s word. In the first reading the Shunamite woman recognises that Elisha is a man of God, and welcomes him into her house.

In the Old Testament God confirmed the word of the prophet when predictions by the prophet came true. Although we often link the role of the prophet with the ability to foretell the future, this is not the true mark of the prophet. The prophet is the one who courageously speaks and witnesses God’s word.

Elisha acknowledges the Shunamite woman’s generosity and welcome, and wants to reward her for permitting God to work through her. The woman and her husband are infertile, a condition that is often considered to be a punishment from God. Elisha proposes to reward the couple’s generosity by lifting this ‘curse’ from them; he promises them that in a year’s time, they will have a child of their own.

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Further Readings:

Joseph De Piro was a grateful person. When we read the biography written by Fr Alexander Bonnici OFM Conv, we discover that De Piro was very thankful and appreciative. One can draw a long list of aspects of this virtue in the De Piro’s life. Here are some examples of his gratitude:

Towards God:

Joseph De Piro was grateful

  • for his life;
  • for the priesthood;
  • for providing the Church with religious institutes;
  • for the divine help in the charitable institutes;
  • for God’s continuous providence towards his missionary society.

 

Towards Our Lady:

  • for helping him in his many ministries;
  • for her continuous intercession on the part of the society; De Piro prayed especially to Mary in her Assumption, whom he declared patron saint of the society.

 

Towards members of his family:

  • shown by visiting them at home;
  • shown by regularly sending them letters from abroad.

 

Towards the ecclesiastical hierarchy:

  • the Vatican, especially the popes, for their support in founding the society;
  • Malta’s bishops, especially PP Pace, Mauro Caruana and Michael Gonzi.

 

Towards civil authorities:

  • for dedicating their lives for the good of society;
  • for the help they always offered to the ecclesiastical charitable institutes where he was director.

 

Towards his predecessors:

  • in the ecclesiastical charitable institutes where he was director;
  • the Maltese priests who, in some way, wished to begin a society similar to his own.

 

Towards his collaborators:

  • the religious sisters and other members of religious orders in charitable institutes;
  • in regards to the society, especially at its foundation and growth.

 

Towards benefactors:

  • those who contributed to the ecclesiastical charitable institutes under his care;
  • those who contributed to his society;
  • those who contributed to other institutions.

 

Towards Maltese emigrants:

  • for living the faith even when away from their country of birth.

 

In expressing his gratitude to benefactors, De Piro did not discriminate:

  • he sent a note of thanks even to anyone who gave only a very small donation to an ecclesiastical charitable institutes or to the society.

 

De Piro expressed his gratitude by offering prayers and sacrifices:

  • De Piro prayed and offered sacrifices as a way of showing his gratitude for those who supported any one of his projects. He also expressed his appreciation by keeping his benefactors updated about the progress of his many initiatives.
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Jeremiah 20:10-13; Psalm 68(69):8-10,14,17,33-35; Romans 5:12-15; Matthew 10:26-33.
Reflection:
In the gospel reading of this twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Jesus invites us to trust in him totally: ‘Do not be afraid…. You are worth more than hundreds of sparrows!’ There are times when we may feel lost and under pressure from those who misunderstand us, yet our trust should always be in God.
In the second reading, from the letter of Paul to the Romans, Paul writes about Jesus who came to save us from our sinfulness. While Adam sinned by disobeying God in the garden of Eden, Jesus, the second Adam, saves us by the gift of divine life that he gives us. Like Adam, we all sin through disobedience, but we are also assured of Jesus’ saving gift that is much greater than our sins.
Joseph De Piro was convinced of this reality of Jesus’ saving presence. During his life he tried to enter into a deeper relationship with Jesus, his saviour. We can observe this as we read through his various notes and documents. In today’s reflection we are invited to reflect on “Joseph De Piro’s journey of discovering Jesus Christ.”
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Reflection:
Joseph De Piro’s journey of discovering Jesus Christ
Stages in the discovery of Jesus Christ
A lectio divina of Jesus Christ

Stage 1 (at age 14)
The Meditative Stage
Document: The drawing of the face of the suffering Jesus.
Analysis / Comments:
In this first stage Joseph De Piro experiences Jesus as the one:
(1) who is under great suffering, but remains strong in his weakness; and
(2) who evangelises through his silence.
Joseph, only 14 years of age, is already presenting a Jesus document; he is not presenting himself as actively involved in the experience, he is rather on the receiving end. Joseph meditates Jesus.

Stage 2: (at age 20)
The Contemplative Stage
Document: An exercise to discern whether he should become a lawyer or a priest
“The desire to give myself totally to God; He who has suffered so much for my sins.”
Analysis / Comments:
Joseph again presenting Jesus as the one who suffers. In this second stage De Piro goes further:
(1) Jesus suffers for Joseph De Piro;
(2) Joseph recognises himself as a sinner; and
(3) the sufferings of Jesus make Joseph offer himself completely to the Lord (through the priesthood).
In this second stage Joseph:
(i) is getting to know Jesus more;
(ii) through his ‘greater understanding’ of Jesus, Joseph comes to know himself (a sinner);
(iii) through better ‘knowing’ of Jesus and himself better, Joseph involves himself more in ‘the journey;’ and wants to offer himself to the Lord through the priesthood, he has suffered for him. This is a great moment! Joseph’s ‘yes’ to God in the priesthood is the result of a better ‘knowing’ of:
(a) Jesus;
(b) what the Lord has done for him; and
(c) his own person.
Joseph starts contemplating Jesus.

Stage 3: (at age 24)
The Mystical Stage (first part)
Document: A second discernment exercise to decide between an ecclesiastical diplomatic career or ministry at St Joseph’a Home orphanage.
“… it is certainly a sound teaching that Jesus chooses those who are humble.”
“… when I considered that I had chosen a crown of thorns with Jesus, rather than one of roses.”
“Because [in this way] I can follow Jesus more closely.”
“I would have suffered a little for Jesus’ sake.”
Analysis / Comments:
Who is this Jesus that Joseph is discovering at this third stage of his life? Joseph says clearly and repeatedly that for him Jesus is the one who:
(1) does the will of the Father;
(2) humbled himself as far as suffering and dying on the cross; and
(3) chooses as his disciples only those who imitate their Master by humbling themselves.
Joseph deepens his contemplation of Jesus.

Stage 4: (At age 25 to 56)
The Mystical Stage (second part)
Document: the sermons
Analysis / Comments:
As a result of his meditation and contemplation of Jesus, Joseph De Piro, a presbyter, evangelises Jesus Christ as:
(1) the incarnate Jesus: ‘God like us;’
(2) the suffering Jesus: God in solidarity with the poor, ‘God with us;’
(3) the Eucharistic Jesus: ‘God in us;’ and
(4) Jesus with a heart completely open for humanity: God who loves us through his Son, the loving God who saves us, ‘God for us.’
This be considered as the mystical stage of Joseph De Piro’s spiritual life.

According to witnesses who testified in the Diocesan Process of the Cause of Canonisation Joseph De Piro experienced Jesus in the sisters and brothers he ministered to.

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“Come, Holy Spirit, come!… You have called us together, in this time and in this place. Here we are: lay people and religious, inspired by the charism of Joseph De Piro, called to live out the Gospel message and to build the kingdom of God in our parts of the world, each in our own way… Conspire with us, as we lean into the New Life that emerges when we gather as one in Your Name.”                                                       

                                                                         Opening Prayer

On Wednesday June 10 2020, MSSP Lay Missionaries from Australia and the Philippines gathered together for what we hope will be the first of many encounters.  Our deep, shared desire to unite in the spirit of our founder, Joseph De Piro, allowed us to transcend all that divides us, including distance, language and time difference. Indeed, it was hard not to see the irony: that it was our current pandemic, which compels us to be socially distant, that in fact paved the way for us to become creative in our desire to gather as one family! Love, it seems, always finds a way!

So it was that twenty-four of us united in prayer and shared reflection to celebrate how we can grow more in our faith as MSSP Lay Missionaries. We commenced the meeting with time for introductions as each person shared what had drawn them to becoming part of this growing Paulist family. For some, it was their encounter with Fr Lonnie Borg at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) located in Santa Mesa, Manila, where the MSSPs provide ministry. For others, the invitation to attend a retreat at the Paulist Retreat Centre in Wantirna or their encounter with MSSP religious within the parishes of St James the Apostle or St Bernadette’s introduced them to the missionary charism of Joseph De Piro. And for others still, it was attending a Mission Immersion trip to Manila and Bataan that first ignited their desire to know more about our missionary charism.

Regardless of the starting point, the yearning to deepen our faith, to unite with each other and our MSSP family throughout the world and to hear the voices of those too often pushed to the margins was palpable. Our shared prayer time which concluded our meeting reminded us that the Gospel is indeed Good News and that God enfleshed makes the impossible possible.

This gathering of MSSP Lay Missionaries brought to life the resolution at the MSSP General Chapter 2018 in Peru: “… the MSSP encourages and entreats all those who share the missionary charism of Joseph De Piro to take their place in the life of the Society, in particular mission, worship and leadership.” We look forward to other opportunities to gather with our MSSP Lay Missionaries from Malta, Peru and other parts of the world.

                                                                                                Geralyn McCarthy

                                                                                                MSSP Lay Delegate, Australia

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Deuteronomy 8:2-3,14b-16a; Psalm 147:12-13,14-15,19-20; 1 Corinthians 10:16-17; John 6:51-58.
Reflection:
This Sunday we are invited to meditate on the mystery of the Body and Blood of Christ. Before giving himself up for us on the cross, Jesus gave himself up for us at the Last Supper. He gave himself as food and drink, nourishment for our pilgrim journey. Jesus’ body was broken on the cross; it is broken again each time we eat and drink of his Body and Blood.
Jesus invites us on a journey of love. In Jesus God became human to reveal himself to us, he invites us to participate in this journey of love to share in the divine life. The Eucharist maintains us as we undertake this journey.
Joseph De Piro travelled this journey, getting to know Jesus more intimately. In the Further Readings section, we can find a list of moments that reflect this journey.
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Further Readings:
Age Document Contents and comments
14 The drawing of the face of Jesus. The suffering Jesus, the one who evangelised through his silence, and the one who remained strong in his weakness.
While young Joseph reflects on the suffering of Jesus, he does not involve himself directly. He is only expressing his personal experience of Jesus.
20 The discernment exercise De Piro carried out before he left the law course and started studying for the priesthood. Joseph again presents Jesus as the one who suffers for him and adds:
• Jesus is suffering for him, a sinner;
• the sufferings of Jesus encourage him to offer himself completely to the Lord in the priesthood.
24 The discernment exercise to choose between attending the academy and follow a career as a Church diplomat or going to live at St Joseph’ Orphanage. “… Jesus chooses those who are humble… looked for me among sinners.”
Jesus, the one crowned with thorns;
Jesus, the one to be imitated;
Jesus, the one who has suffered so much for his sake.
25-56 In his sermons. • the incarnate Jesus: ‘God like us;’
• the suffering Jesus: God in solidarity with the poor ones; ‘God with us;’
• the Eucharistic Jesus: ‘God in us;’
• Jesus with a heart completely open for humanity: God who loves through his Son, God’s love that saves; ‘God for us.’
According to the witnesses who testified in the Diocesan Process of the Cause of Canonisation. De Piro saw Jesus in the brothers and sisters he helped.

The Eucharistic expressions De Piro used in his sermons speak of God’s love for us:
• “The last moment consists in the most intimate union with us ….”
• “… in the Eucharist he is united to each one of us ….”
• “…that Jesus, of Bethlehem, of Nazareth … is within you, and his heart beat is your heart beat ….”
• “… what Jesus does to unite himself with us ….”
• “… we who have our God so near to us in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar, not symbolically, not as a shadow, but in reality ….”
• “… as a father among his beloved children, as a shepherd among his sheep ….”
• “… he decided to come and dwell among us….”
• “In the Eucharist … our heart becomes one with the heart of Jesus, his spirit becomes one with our spirit ….”
• “… Jesus within us ….”
• “… I am with you ….”
• “… Jesus … is continuously eager to be united to us.”

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Isaiah 55:10-11; Psalm 64(65):10-14; Romans 8:18-23; Matthew 13:1-23.

Reflection:

The word of God is like the rain and the snow that fall on the earth water and nourish the plants. Before the water evaporates back, it leaves its effect on those who have received it, producing different fruits and flowers.

The word of God is like the seed sown by the sower. There is an abundance in the sowing and the sower is not careful to place all his seeds in fertile ground. God’s word falls on different types of soil. Some surfaces are too hard to let the seed take root, others have no depth, and the word dries out quickly, while in other places there are too many weeds that choke the new growth. When the word falls on fertile soil, open to accept it, it does produces an abundance of fruit.

Like the dedicated sower, Joseph De Piro dedicated himself to spreading the good news. He did this in a number of ways. Today we will consider his preaching ministry. In this homily delivered on the Third Sunday of Lent, he reflected on the person’s disposition when listening to God’s word.

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Further Readings:

It is easy to discuss De Piro’s preaching ministry because, as in other areas of his life, he was meticulous in the way he filed them. Two hundred and thirteen of De Piro’s homilies have survived; some are fully developed, others are in note form. Studying these homilies, one notices that there are other homilies that are missing, while others are incomplete.

Joseph De Piro filed his homilies by theme. At the top of the sermon he often noted where, when, and to whom the sermon had been delivered. While the text is in Italian, De Piro often included, in brackets, words and phrases in Maltese, indicating that while his preferred language was Italian, he actually preached in Maltese.

De Piro’s preaching was very pastoral; he wanted to help those listening to him to get closer to God. His homilies tended to be simple, yet based on sound biblical and theological foundations.

The following sermon speaks about the person’s dispositions when listening to the Word of God:

Scripture; Gospels – Homilies

To the Franciscan Sisters at Fra Diegu Orphanage

The Divine Will

The listener’s disposition during homilies

“… Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it!” (Luke 11:28)

At the beginning of his public life, wherever he went, throughout the towns and villages of Judea and Palestine, Jesus performed great miracles: restoring sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, speech to the mute and, with just a simple gesture, called the dead back to life.

Moreover, through his way of life, he gave an example of holiness. The humble among the people recognised him as the Messiah, showing him respect and worshipping him as their saviour. The Pharisees, consumed by envy and hate, ridiculed Jesus, accused him falsely, looked for ways to condemn him and misjudged even the holiest of his works. In today’s gospel, when the Pharisees saw Jesus perform this great miracle, they accused him of freeing the mute man from an evil spirit through the power of Beelzebub, prince of darkness. Wicked people envy those who do good and try their utmost to ruin them. Jesus disregards the hatred of the Pharisees and continues to teach. Today we will reflect on the concluding words of the gospel reading: “… Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it!” (Lk 11:28)

Let us meditate this phrase and consider the appropriate attitudes that can assist us to listen better to God’s word.

Last Sunday, the Second Sunday in Lent, we reflected about the ‘beatific’ glory awaiting us when we die; today we will speak about one of the ways that can lead us to this glory. Jesus himself tells us that this is a ‘blessed’ way! This is certainly a powerful way. When we listen to a sermon, God’s word inspires our spirit. It is therefore important to reflect on these attitudes.

1: Let us come to listen to the homily drawn with a strong desire to learn, and not attend simply because it is customary or mandatory for us to do so. Let us approach like one who goes to dinner with a great appetite; our hunger for God’s word is a sign of holiness and of our positive attitude. Hunger for God’s word benefits our soul. Moreover, while loss of appetite is a sign of sickness, one who is not willing to listen to God’s word, demonstrates that he is spiritually unhealthy. The person who loves God, desires God’s word; like the parents who love their children, and are pleased to hear about them. St John says: “Whoever is from God hears the words of God. The reason you do not hear them is that you are not from God.” (Jn 8:47)

2: Let us not attend simply out of curiosity, drawn by the preacher’s oratory; let us pay attention to the message of the homily. Let us not be like the sick person in need of surgery who, rather than submitting to the surgical operation, satisfies himself with admiring the excellence of the surgical instruments! People who do not listen carefully to the message are like a sieve that lets go of the wheat and the fine flour and retains straw and husk. The author of the book of Nehemiah, narrates that when Ezra the scribe was speaking to the people about God’s law, the listeners were so overcome with emotion and were crying so loudly that the Levites had to carry him to the middle of the crowd and place him on a platform, so that all could hear him. (Cf Neh 8:1-12) We too need to listen attentively to the homily, evaluating our actions against the preacher’s message.

3: Let us go to listen to ordinary things, reflect on them with humility, and understand them better; let us not go to listen to extraordinary and new things. St Paul wrote to the Philippians: “To write the same things to you is not troublesome to me, and for you it is a safeguard” (Ph 3:1b). Paul, who had been caught up to the third heaven (cf 2Co 12:2) certainly knew and could talk about new and extraordinary things!

4: Let us take care to apply what we hear to ourselves, and not waste time speaking about others. Let us not look at the speck in our neighbour’s eye (cf Mt 7:3-5). Let us be like friends, happy to sit together at table, and not gossip about our sisters and brothers. The book of Ecclesiasticus says that the prudent person applies to himself everything he hears, the evil person discards everything over his shoulders. (cf Si 21:15)

5: “Before judgment comes, examine yourself;…” (Si 18:20a). The book of Ecclesiasticus teaches us that we need to work to shun our failings and not to ignore them.

6: Let us apply to ourselves what we hear being spoken of in general, “… and obey it” (Lk 11:28b). The person who cannot digest the food he eats, indicates that he is unhealthy.

St Augustine says that the word of God is like a river. St James writes “… be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves” (Jam 1:22). Many people, even sinners, are in the heavenly glory because have they listened to God’s word with humility and treasured it.

The Jesuit priest Paolo Segneri writes about Moses, a murderer who lived in Egypt. Even though this man did not believe in God, after listening attentively to a homily about hell, converted and became a holy monk.

In his youth, St John of God ran away from home and lived as a tramp. On two occasions he served as a soldier and was condemned to death for deserting. By chance once he attended a homily and, having listened to the message with humility and compassion, was moved and enlightened. Throwing himself on the ground, he publicly confessed his sins and decided to become a saint. 

We too ….

“… Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it!” (Luke 11:28).

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Exodus 34:4-6,8-9; Daniel 3:52-56; Corinthians 13:11-13; John 3:16-18.
Reflection:
Today’s readings invite us to meditate on the three persons of the Holy Trinity; God who is Father, Son and Spirit. God who is Lover, Beloved and Love itself. In the Old Testament, God the Father was experienced as the God of the exodus, leading is people out of slavery in Egypt and giving them a new way of life, the ten commandments.
In the New Testament, especially in today’s gospel reading, we are introduced to the Son, the eternally beloved by the Father, who sent as a witness to this great divine love. “God loved the world so much, that he gave his only Son.”
The Holy Spirit, which we celebrated last week, is the life, love and joy of God. The Spirit reveals itself in the love and joy that we share with our sisters and brothers.
As we meditate the mystery of the Trinity we recognise in the Trinity a life of perfect unity. The term ‘mystery’ does not simply mean something beyond our full understanding, but also that it is something that actuates what it signifies. The Three Divine Persons only exist because they are in perfect union with each other and create us in their own image and likeness. Created in this image of communion, and we are therefore invited to live in communion with our sisters and brothers.
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Further Readings:

Joseph De Piro understood this connection with God and lived a life of communion:
• with his mother and the other members of his own family in their family life;
• with the ecclesiastical superiors, both locally and in the Vatican, with regards to his life as a priest, his various ministries, and the foundation of his missionary society;
• with other diocesan priests in Malta and in Gozo, especially with regards to his apostolate and the foundation of his society;
• with the Franciscan Sisters of the Heart of Jesus, the Sisters of Jesus of Nazareth, the members of his own society and Maria Assunta Borg, in the ecclesiastical charitable institutions;
• with other priests at St Joseph’s Orphanage in Malta, before being appointed director;
• with the foundresses three female religious institutes, assisting them in the foundation of their religious congregations;
• with the members of the Maltese National Assembly (1918-1921) and those of its Central Commission, in regards to working out a constitution for Malta;
• with the members of his society, the Society of Christian Doctrine (MUSEUM) and Michael Casolani, for the evangelisation of the children in Mdina, Rabat, Birkirkara and in the ecclesiastical charitable institutes;
• with others in favour of the evangelisation of the Maltese migrants;
• with others for the evangelisation of those who lacked the Good News.

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