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2nd Sunday in Advent (B) – Reflections from De Piro’s Life and Writings.

2nd Sunday in Advent (B) – Reflections from De Piro’s Life and Writings.

Year B

2nd Sunday in Advent

Isaiah 40:1-5,9-11; Psalm 84(85):9-14; 2 Peter 3:8-14; Mark 1:1-8.

Reflection:

On this second Sunday in Advent, the first reading and the gospel both take us out into the wilderness, where nothing much happens. Both Isaiah and John the Baptist invite us to prepare a way for the Lord by straightening up our paths. This is certainly not an easy venture even though a changing landscape was a common feature at the time. Conquering empires built wide straight highways to facilitate quick movement of their troops from one part of the empire to another.

The image Isaiah and John are suggesting to us this Sunday is to make it easy for the coming Messiah to find his way into our hearts. While we await his coming, we are expected to change the landscape of our heart as we repent from our sins and convert back to God. The opening prayer for this Sunday’s liturgy encourages us to pray that nothing hinders us from meeting the Son of God.

May this be our prayer this Advent. May we, each day of our life, make decisions that help us straighten our ways, preparing us the God’s coming in our life and at the end of times.

 

Further Reading:

When he was discerning whether he should be joining the community of priests living at St Joseph’s Orphanage, Hamrun, or obeying the bishop’s wish, and enrol in the Ecclesiastical Academy to prepare himself for a career in Church diplomacy, Joseph De Piro opted for a simple life at St Joseph’s rather than risking to be obstructed in his journey of discipleship.

 

Reasons against enrolling in the Ecclesiastical Academy:

  1. Because, as far as I am aware, only those seminarians who can boast of a noble birth choose to enrol at the Academy.
  2. Because, by enrolling at the Academy, it will be like putting myself on display, in order to be chosen for some higher Ecclesiastical position; while it is certainly a sound teaching that Jesus chooses those who are humble. And since when He decided to choose me as His minister He looked for me among sinners, so also now, if He has determined for me some other role, He should know to look for me among His chosen ones. It is therefore not necessary for me to make myself known by going to the Academy.
  3. If I consider my own sinfulness I find that the only thing I deserve is a good beating and not prelatures or diplomatic positions! It is already infinitely more than I can ever wish for if I manage to become a priest.
  4. Considering my intellectual capabilities I acknowledge that I am not bright. Up to now I have managed. When the Lord called me to the priesthood I was in my first year, studying law at the University of Malta. Now I am in my third year theology at the Gregorian University. I did very badly in the final exams for the Bachelor in Theology: I barely scraped through in two out of the three exams. Therefore, considering my abilities and the rigours of sitting exams, my hope of achieving higher University degrees is greatly reduced. I might do better if I study Canon Law.
  5. Since usually after Communion one of the first graces I ask the Lord is that to help me understand his will, I believe that this justified objection to enrol at the Academy has been suggested by Him.
  6. Because I will be putting myself in the danger of wishing for important Ecclesiastical positions, roles and honours, and those who look for danger will perish in it.
  7. While, on the contrary, by refusing to enrol at the Academy, I will have protected myself from the possibility of wishing for, and more so from asking for honorary positions and roles in the diocese.
  8. Because I think that the Lord has allowed me to be tempted with the prospect of enrolling at the Academy in order to strengthen in me the decision I had taken some days earlier, to take up residence in St Joseph’s Home, having obtained the Bishop’s permission.
  9. In fact, once I had asked the Rector of the Capranica to convey to the President of the Academy my refusal to enrol at the Academy, I felt great consolations when I considered that I had chosen a crown of thorns with Jesus, rather than one of roses.
  10. St Joseph’s Home.

 

Reasons in favour of going to St Joseph’s Orphanage:

  1. Because an inner feeling tells me that from this orphanage God wants to establish in Malta a congregation of priests under the patronage of Saint Paul, and that after having established itself in Malta, it will also spread itself into foreign lands.

N.B. At this stage I have been advised to set this reason aside, and I do so very willingly.

  1. The love of living in a community of priests. I feel I should be happy living in the company of the two priests, directors of St Joseph’s Home.
  2. The desire to do penance for my sins, especially for those that have offended my neighbour.
  3. Because knowing that if I live with my family, I would be putting myself in the danger of being attracted to wealth, or at least that material concerns will certainly occupy a large part of my time and considerations.
  4. Because in this way I can follow Jesus more closely.
  5. Because in this way I will be guaranteed an area where I can exercise my priesthood.
  6. Because it will be easier for me to live the virtue of poverty, even if I do not profess a vow of poverty, and in some ways even the virtue of obedience.
  7. So that on my deathbed I may be able to find some comfort in knowing that I would have suffered a little for Jesus’ sake, He who suffered so much for my sins.

 

Furthermore Joseph De Piro too, like Isaiah and John the Baptist, was at times a voice crying out in the wilderness, with no one listening to him. This can be observed in relation to his companion priests, the members of the local and Vatican Church hierarchy and the Maltese youths. Even his promotion of the missionary spirit in Malta was not always very successful. Yet he never gave up but always looked forward in hope. Fr Louis Gatt, one of the first members of his Society said that “Those who wanted to discourage us from staying in the Society told us that the Society would not survive aft­er the Founder’s death. De Piro heard about this, but he did not get an­gry at these people. He used to tell us that the Society would get bigger after his death. When once we told him ab­out what we heard, the Founder told us: “If you leave, I will start again from the beginning.”

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