God is the only one without a ‘Best Before’date said Bishop Mario Grech at the start of the pastoral year. Referring to the younger generation and it’s genuine search for truth and honesty, Bishop Grech said that in their zest for life, the younger generation are very conscious of the ephemeral nature pleasure and fun. They look for something more permanent, more stable, said Bishop Grech because they feel the need for permanence in transiency.
“It is our responsibility to help the younger generation discover God, to assist them in their probing questions so as to enable them to open up the ears of their heart to Him” said the Bishop of Gozo. He recalled Pope Francis’ words that all pastoral work is a vocations, all formation is a vocations and all spirituality is a vocation. The Christian is the person who follows the call of God, a call made out of love and which captures the hearts.
Be My Friend is all God asks
In a tone of regret, Bishop Grech said that unfortunately many, some even in the religious life, had not yet made that Divine Encounter. Youths, like Christians are called to a friendship with Christ and from this friendship, other opportunities will blossom. “The watershed for a Christian is not some momentous ethical decision, some high-flown idea, but rather it is the experience of an event or a person who gives life an new and decisive action” quoted Bishop Grech from the Papal Exhortation Christus Vivit.
Taking up the bible story where the rich young man met Christ, Bishop Grech said that the story shows the thirst of the young for truth but, as Pope Francis said in his exhortation, he missed the occasion to foster his friendship with Christ. We should reflect, said Bishop Grech, on our encounters, asking ourselves what we should do to make our encounter with God fruitful. “When we discover that God is alive, we have a guarantee that He has a place in our hearts and that our endeavours will yield results. We will stop complaining and will look joyfully forward. That is a certainty” said Bishop Grech.
From junkie of joyful Christian
Bishop Grech recalled a recent meeting he had with a former drug addict. “Here was a youth who had messed up his life and the life of many around him with his criminal activities” observed Bishop Grech. The young man is now integrating well in society, making a positive contribution, after a rehabilitation program which promoted a strong spiritual life. “If a person truly meets Christ, that person dons the Divine beauty and helps those around him to do the same” said the Bishop of Gozo. Discovering God helps us discover ourselves and grow in the shade of His love, adding that in the discernment of a vocation, one should never exclude the call to a consecrated life.
Making a culture for vocations our compass
Bishop Grech said that following the recent synod on youths and vocations, he was proposing a drive to foster a culture of vocations. “When a vocational awareness is instilled,” said Bishop Grech, “the Church becomes fertile ground for diverse ministries and special calls”. He added that this seeding ground is not only useful for enabling calls to the consecrated life, be it religious or lay. It is also useful in helping youths discern the multi-hued calls which God makes to His people. The inability to discern God’s call properly, warned Bishop Grech, renders us puppets in the hands of fate. He said that for this pastoral work to be effective it must be personalized, manifest through example and in line with the current teachings of the Church.
“If, in our catechi, in the animation of the sacraments, in the liturgy, in the Eucharist, adorations, prayers and homilies we do not foster the believers and help them enter the presence of God, what we do will not be Christian pastoral work” concluded Bishop Grech.