The wise in­vestor

Malta Independent - - DEBATE & ANALYSIS -

The gospel of Wed­nes­day, 16 Novem­ber, of the Thirty-third Week in Or­di­nary time, spoke about in­vest­ing well. In the Gospel taken from Luke 19:1128 Je­sus re­counts the para­ble about mak­ing use of what God has given us. The moral of the para­ble is crys­tal clear: the more we in­vest the more we gain. On the other hand, the less we in­vest the more we lose what we were given to in­vest!

On that un­for­get­table Wed­nes­day morn­ing, pre­cisely at 8.46am, the Fran­cis­can Ca­puchin Fri­ars, the Mal­tese Church and so­ci­ety lost one of their great­est peo­ple, Fr Joe Sal­iba OFM Cap. I had the joy of know­ing Fr Joe for al­most 23 years. More­over I had the priv­i­lege of work­ing with him at Mater Dei Hos­pi­tal as one of my fel­low hos­pi­tal chap­lains for more than three years.

Fr Joe was an ex­cel­lent in­vestor. He in­vested in the best in­vest­ment ever: God’s King­dom. He gave his faith­ful al­le­giance com­pletely to the best busi­ness­man that can ever ex­ist: Je­sus Christ. In the Matthean Gospel Je­sus taught us that “ev­ery sound tree bears good fruit” (Matt 7:17). Fr Joe’s holy life bore abun­dant good fruit. From the early days of his call to the Fran­cis­can Ca­puchin con­se­crated life, this ar­dent Marsa man for Je­sus, clearly un­der­stood and won­der­fully in­te­ri­orised Saint Paul’s en­cour­ag­ing words to the Colos­sian Com­mu­nity: “As there­fore you re­ceived Christ Je­sus the Lord, so live in him, rooted and built up in him and es­tab­lished in the faith, just as you were taught, abound­ing in thanks­giv­ing” (Col 2:6-7).

The good fruit the Holy Spirit did in and through Fr Joe is un­doubt­edly abun­dant. I would like to limit my­self to some of his main virtues. The first virtue which ex­celled in Fr Joe’s con­se­crated life was his avail­abil­ity to ev­ery­one. He was al­ways there to help gen­er­ously. One of Fr Joe’s favourite bi­ble verses that pi­loted his life was the fol­low­ing: “For the Son of man also came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ran­som for many” (Mark 10:45). How many times he vol­un­teered to help me in my shift? Es­pe­cially when I was asked to work ex­tra hours? How many times Fr Joe re­lieved my other brother chap­lains from their stress­ful mis­sion by work­ing ex­tra hours to help them get back their strength?

To para­phrase Pope Fran­cis’ homily de­liv­ered at the Ju­bilee for Priests cel­e­brated in Rome on the Solem­nity of the Sa­cred Heart of Je­sus, last June, Fr Joe’s priestly heart was mod­elled on that of the Good Shep­herd. He com­pas­sion­ately and con­sis­tently reached out to ev­ery­one, “above all to those who are most dis­tant”. In Pope Fran­cis’ words, Fr Joe was “stub­born in do­ing good, anointed with the di­vine ob­sti­nacy that loses sight of no one. Not only [did] he keep his doors open, but he also [went] to seek out those who no longer wish to en­ter them. Like ev­ery good Chris­tian, and as an ex­am­ple for ev­ery Chris­tian, he con­stantly [went] out of him­self. The epi­cen­tre of his heart [was] out­side of him­self. He [was] cen­tred only in Je­sus, not in him­self. He [was] not at­tracted by his own ‘I’, but by the ‘Thou’ of God and by the ‘we’ of other men and women”.

But from where did Fr Joe at­tain such power to do good for bet­ter for worse, for richer for poorer, in sick­ness and in health? Surely from the Taber­na­cle! If I wanted to look for Fr Joe I knew where to find him: pray­ing be­fore the Taber­na­cle! His love for the Eucharis­tic Je­sus filled him with the nec­es­sary en­ergy he needed to keep liv­ing his life for his brethren, es­pe­cially the sick.

Fr Joe strongly be­lieved and lived Pope Fran­cis’ re­flec­tion which was ad­dressed to us priests at Cas­sano all’Jo­nio on 21 June 2014. “When we priests are be­fore the Taber­na­cle, and we pause a mo­ment there, in si­lence, then we feel Je­sus’ look again on us, and this look re­news us, it re­an­i­mates us …”

Thank you Fr Joe for be­ing such a gen­er­ous, pray­ing, hum­ble and joy­ous priest! Pray for us to be wise in­vestors as you cer­tainly were!

Fr Mario At­tard OFM Cap Marsa

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