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The grace of unexpected encounters

Reflection for the Palm Sunday 2021

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They led him out to crucify him. They enlisted a passer-by, Simon of Cyrene, father of Alexander and Rufus, who was coming in from the country, to carry his cross.

Mark 15, 21

This Lent, the liturgical year invites us to read the Gospel of Mark, who is the most down-to-earth narrator out of the four evangelists, providing us with the greatest number of raw facts, with little interpretation. Mark is also the evangelist who, through the sobriety of his narrative, best allows words to conjure up the scenes within which we move around as discreet spectators.

Among all these images hanging on the connecting thread between the acclamation of the Palm Sunday procession and the celebration of Easter Sunday, from “Hosannah” to “Alleluia”, there is one special image that I would like to contemplate with you today. The image of a man returning from the countryside, a family man called Simon from the African city of Cyrene, requisitioned by the soldiers to carry the cross of Christ. It is therefore under constraint, not out of compassion for an exhausted convict, that the unlucky passer-by “takes on the job”. I can even imagine that on obeying this order, he must have thought: “If only I had chosen another road”.

The weat field

Springtime image

Reflection for the fifth Sunday of Lent 2021

If the grain of wheat that falls to the earth does not die, it remains only a grain of wheat; but if it dies, then it produces much fruit.

John 12:20-3

Jesus gives us this Sunday the springtime image of the rebirth of nature, of food and fruit blossoming from what is sown. He leaves us with the imperative that as his followers, Christians that we are, we cannot stand still. It is of no use to keep what we have received or what we have discovered if we do not put it to good use. Or if we do not share it with others. To preserve is sterile. To share is to flourish and bear fruit. We live in times when it seems that many try more to resist and preserve than to share and radiate. Times where discouragement and giving up gain strength. “It is easy to be infected by the virus of discouragement that sometimes seems to spread around us” Pope Francis tells us (1). “But the Lord has given us an effective vaccine against this evil virus: it is hope; hope, which is born of persevering prayer and daily fidelity to our apostolate. With this vaccine, we can proceed with ever new energy to share the joy of the Gospel as missionary disciples and living signs of the presence of the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of holiness, justice and peace.”

Jesus and Nicodemus

Laetare !

🇪🇸 Versión en español a continuación

Reflection for the fourth Sunday of Lent 2021

God so loved the world that He gave his only Son.

Jn 3:16

The fourth Sunday of Lent is called Laetare Sunday. “Laetare” means “rejoice”, and the Church exalts us to rejoice in the hope of our salvation: “Rejoice, Jerusalem! Be glad for her, you who love her; rejoice with her, you who mourned for her” (Entrance Antiphon — Isaiah 66:10-11). On this “Rejoice!” Sunday, we can reflect on what brings us love in life.

This is precisely what John explains to us: God is love, and His love for us sinful humanity is constant, generous, and self-sacrificing. Jesus truly loves us, despite our being sinful, that He is willing to suffer and die for us, because His compassion is the most precise expression of love. Jesus said, “I am the way … no one can come to the Father except through me”. He created us out of love and He desires to be in a personal relationship with us.

Church of Demetrios Loubardiaris

To build a temple

Reflection for the third Sunday of Lent 2021

“Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2: 13-25)

On the third Sunday of Lent, we meet the angry Jesus. His anger is caused by the desecration of the dignity of the temple in Jerusalem, its humiliation to the place of empty rites. He drove out the money changers, dealers of pigeon, sheep and oxen… Jesus announces: “Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house a house of merchandise”. The Master wants to tell people that buying and sacrificing an oxen, sheep or a dove, it is unlikely that they will buy peace of mind, health, fulfilment of desires, or a clear conscience… Because that’s not what God wants. What the Creator desires from us is to sacrifice our hearts to him. A true, God-pleasing sacrifice is a grieving, humble heart (Ps 50 (51), 17) that God will never reject.


When God transfigures our lives

Reflection for the second Sunday of Lent 2021

There are those moments, when I feel frozen. Not able to move. My mouth half open and my eyes big as the moon. Moments when time seems to stop, but that go away way too fast. Some may think I write about bad things happening, that it is fear or shock. But, no. These stunning moments, overwhelming my whole self are wonderful, beautiful, stunning. They appear from time to time and let me realize the deeper beauty of this life, our creation and the love of God. Personally in so many moments: during a youth gathering for my teens, where I felt a deep sensation of community and the presence of the Lord; during holidays, when I discovered the inherent beauty of foreign cultures and people; and also in some small everyday moments, when gratitude and thankfulness overcome me.