Genesis 12:1-4; Psalm 32:4-5,18-20,22; Timothy 1:8-10; Mathew 17:1-9.
Christians are invited to live and witness to the word of God. Abraham, our father in faith, is presented to us as the one who listened, and obeyed God’s word. The Apostle Paul encourages his disciple Timothy, and us, to minister and spread the good news. In the gospel we hear the voice of the Father, inviting us to listen to and obey his Beloved Son.
During the time of Lent, the Church reminds us of the need to deepen our relationship with God through reading and reflecting on God’s word. In last Sunday’s gospel passage, Jesus, Word incarnate, was presented to us as rebutting the devil’s temptations using the powerful word of God.
Do I have the courage, like Abraham, to obey God’s word, pick up my belongings, travel to a new land and start a new life there? Do I have the courage to leave behind my securities and, placing my full trust in God, journey to where God’s word wants to take me? Am I ready to be an apostle, sent to give witness to the good news, even in a world that is at times hostile to God?
Once again, we look at the image of Joseph De Piro to see how he lived God’s word.
At the age of 14, Joseph painted an impressive image of the suffering face of Jesus. Through this painting Joseph reflects on the image of Jesus in his life. Jesus is presented as the one who evangelised through his silent, patient suffering. Jesus remained strong till the end, even when he seemed physically weak, and infirm.
At age of 20, De Piro carried out a discernment exercise to discover God’s will regarding his vocation to the priesthood. In this exercise, Joseph wrote that Jesus was the one who suffered so much for him. Here he added that: (1) Jesus had suffered for him, a sinner; and that (2) the sufferings of Jesus encouraged him to offer himself completely to the Lord in the priesthood.
At age of 24, Joseph, a serminarian at the Capranica College in Rome, was faced with another choice about his future. His wish was to return to Malta, immediately after his priestly ordination, and assist the director of St Joseph’s Orphanage for boys. Meanwhile, Archbishop Peter Pace invited him to stay in Rome, and to continue his studies at the Ecclesiastical Academy, effectively becoming part of the Church diplomacy. To help him discover God’s will for him, De Piro undertook another discernment exercise. In this second exercise, in favour of his going to the orphanage, he wrote that “… Jesus prefers those who love to be forgotten … even sinners.” In this exercise, Joseph again referred to Jesus as the one crowned with thorns, the one who suffered so much for him, and the one he needed to imitate.
After his priestly ordination, at age of 25, Joseph De Piro returned to Malta. Apart from his various ministries, he dedicated himself to preaching. In his sermons De Piro presented Jesus as:
+ the incarnate One: God like us;
+ the suffering One: God in solidarity with the poor, God with us;
+ the Eucharistic One: God in us; and
+ the One with a heart completely open for humanity: God who loves through his Son, God’s love that saves us, God for us.
According to the witnesses who testified in the Diocesan Process of the Cause of Canonisation, Joseph De Piro always saw Jesus present in the sisters and brothers he helped continuously and unconditional.