Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Last Friday, 24th June, we participated in the well-organised Thanksgiving Mass held to celebrate the continuous work carried out by Fr Claude Portelli over the course of his nineteen years amongst us. Years of work in diverse areas, with persons in need, church groups and different people. I am certain that we will continue benefitting from his work in the coming years.
Now the responsibility of continuing Fr Claude’s work falls on us. By us I am not only referring to myself and Fr Joshua (who is assisting me), or to the other priests who do their part for the parish. This responsibility also falls on lay parishioners and all those who frequent this parish. We need to work together to continue building on the present work.
In the Gospel (Luke 17: 11-19) we read the story of the healing of the ten lepers. In those days leprosy was considered a shameful disease to have, and lepers were kept outside of the village, so as not to contaminate other villagers. The ten lepers went to Jesus and said to him: “Jesus! Master! Take pity on us”. The lepers had complete faith in Jesus and in His ability to heal them. And that is what Jesus did.
However, there was only one leper, the Samaritan (the outsider), who returned to Jesus. Jesus was disappointed! Not because they did not remember to thank Him (Jesus is generous and does not expect anything in return), but because once the Samaritan returned, Jesus was able to give him the true joy of Himself, but could not give this joy to the other nine. The other nine were content with just their physical healing. This is the difference between them and the Samaritan.
My wish is that together we will grow from the simple faith of the nine lepers to a more mature faith, which will fill us with the joy of our Lord. Like the Samaritan, I wish us to shout for joy because we have found the Lord (see Luke 17:15). It is on this that I would like to base my pastoral work.
On a more concrete note, now that the St. Julian’s Centre is ready and furnished it is my wish that we make use of it in order to continue cultivating within the community that faith that leads to genuine happiness. It might be easy to donate money towards the actual building, but building the community requires more commitment from each one of us.
I urge everyone to work together to continue building a strong community, one which is alive. I would like us to work together to see the bigger picture for the parish and come up with a working plan , a plan that may bring change, one that may take us along different paths than the ones we are used to.
In the words of Pope Francis: “We need to ensure that religious practices do not get reduced to relics from the past, but remain the expression of a living, open faith that spreads the joy of the Gospel, for the joy of the Church is to evangelize.” (Homily of the Prayer Meeting at the National Shrine of “Ta’ Pinu” in Gozo, 2nd April 2022).
Fr Paul Mizzi