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PreachMarch 04, 2024
Father Rob Galea recording “Preach: The Catholic Homilies Podcast” inside the William J. Loschert Studio at America Media in New York City, February 2024Father Rob Galea recording “Preach: The Catholic Homilies Podcast” inside the William J. Loschert Studio at America Media in New York City, February 2024 (Ricardo da Silva, S.J./America Media)

“Explain the resurrection to me in two minutes without using any church language.” This is the challenge that Father Rob Galea sets for his staff to ensure they can easily relate to the young people they serve. “There’s so much church language that we use that we don’t realize that we’re using. So, speak their language as well. And that takes practice, and that takes hanging out with the kids and understanding the way they speak, the way they reason.”

Rob, born and raised in Malta, now serves as a priest in the Diocese of Sandhurst, Victoria, Australia. He has amassed a hundreds of thousands-strong following across social media platforms and is also a popular singer and songwriter who once auditioned for X-Factor Australia.

Today, Rob leads Icon Ministry—formerly FRG Ministry, a global media and outreach apostolate that significantly expanded its reach over the pandemic years.“We’d have 60,000 people at every Sunday Mass online,” he says. “And from there, we started creating resources for schools; we started teaching teachers online while they were in lockdown. And things started to grow and grow.”

His latest ministry initiative is an ambitious first. “We’re on Roblox, on a video gaming platform,” he says. “We’re building a church where there are 70.1 million users every single day. And what we decided was we need to preach the Gospel there.”

On “Preach,” Rob delivers a homily for the Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year B, also known as Laetare, or Rejoicing Sunday. He recalls playing with his sister as a child and turning over large rocks to find an infestation of bugs hidden underneath. Rob says that Jesus is like the light that dispels the bugs in our life—our sinfulness—leading us to freedom. “Yes, it is painful to lift up the rock,” he says. “Yes, it is shocking to come into the light; but there is no greater freedom than living in the light of Christ.”

Rob shares with host Ricardo da Silva, S.J., that even though he always preaches extemporaneously, it doesn't mean he simply wings it. “If you’re overprepared, it allows you to be spontaneous,” Rob explains. “Otherwise, you’re preaching the same thing over and over.”

When asked about effective preaching strategies to use when ministering to young people, Rob suggests preachers allow themselves to become vulnerable and share current, real-life experiences. “Story is so important,” he says, “But not a story about the saints that lived 800 years ago. Don’t start there. Start with you, with your struggle, with someone, or something that happened within the school, something that they know. And, for goodness’ sake, stop using church language.”

[Listen now and follow us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or on your favorite podcast service.]

“Explain the resurrection to me in two minutes without using any church language.”

Scripture Readings for the Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year B

First Reading: 2 Chr 36:14-16, 19-23
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 137:1-2, 3, 4-5, 6
Second Reading: Eph 2:4-10
Gospel: Jn 3:14-21

You can find the full text of the readings here.

Homily for the Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year B, by Rob Galea

So there’s nothing God desires more than for us to be in the light, to love Him. Because in the light is where we see things for what they are; we see God for who God is; we see ourselves for who we are. In the light, we are happiest, but it is a painful process. Sometimes to get into the light, especially if we have allowed darkness to enter in and we’ll let darkness come into our hearts through the compromises. Sometimes we decide to let things go; we decide not to pray; we decide not to do the things we should do and do things that we know we shouldn’t do, as we read in the book of Romans.

The book of Romans, St. Paul, the greatest saint—one of the greatest saints who ever lived. He lived in the light. I can only dream of being one-tenth, one-millionth as holy as St. Paul. But even he said in Romans, he says: I struggle with the faith. No matter how much I try to do the right thing, I mess up. And here’s the reality, you are messed up and I am messed up. But the great thing is that no matter how messed up we are, God calls us into the light, into the beautiful light, and in the light we’re going to find freedom. And freedom from what? It’s freedom from the things that sometimes eat us up.

When I was younger, brought up on the island of Malta, I used to like to explore and to go out into the garden. And very often we’d see this big rock and my sister and I would surround this rock and we would usually pull the rock over. And we knew that when we toppled the rock over we’d see bugs; a lot of these small bugs that loved the darkness, and they were piled up into a sort of sheet of darkness, of black, these little bugs, these little millipedes, all hidden there.

So there’s nothing God desires more than for us to be in the light, to love Him.

But one thing that happens is when you topple the rock over into the light, and expose these bugs, all of a sudden, they start to scatter, they start to move away, and you left with the soil there, and all the bugs all of a sudden disappeared. Now this is the reality for us. What are the bugs of your life? What is gathered under the darkness of your life? And why are you afraid to lift up that rock? Because you see, once Jesus lifts up the rock, he doesn’t lift up the rock to expose us; he doesn’t lift up the rock because he wants the world to see how bad… He wants to show us how we need to improve, but simply because He loves us. He knows that when we turn to him that we’re going to be free; that we’re going to be joyful; that we’re going to be able to live and become everything that God wants us to be.

But here’s the question: How? How are we able to become free? Maybe you’ve been struggling with addiction for so many years; maybe you’ve tried to pray but no matter how much you try to pray, you get distracted and you just cannot sit. Maybe you’re in a broken relationship and all you feel is trapped in darkness. How? How do you find the light? Well, I’d say the first thing is to stop and to ask Jesus: “Jesus, please bring me into the light. Do whatever it takes; make me uncomfortable, because in this discomfort... You see, bringing in the light, turning over the rock, is discomforting. So give God permission to make you uncomfortable so that you can live in the light.”

The second thing is, once the darkness is there and exposed, and once the bugs—you see the bugs?—now you have to get rid of them. And you do this through, for example, especially if there are big bugs, going to the beautiful sacrament of reconciliation. And some of you are scared, like: “I don’t want to confess to a priest. What? I’m embarrassed I haven’t gone for years. I don’t know what to do. And why should I confess to a priest?” But I just say quickly, three things as a priest: when you go to confession, first of all, when you confess your sins, you’re confessing to Jesus, okay. And the priest is not there to judge you, the priest is not there to condemn you. The priest is there to offer mercy and forgiveness. That’s one.

The priest is not there to judge or ocndemn you. The priest is there to offer mercy and forgiveness.

The second thing is that you’re not going to scandalize the priest, even if you’re the pastoral associate and you go to confess to your priest. He’s heard it all. All you need to do is to be ordained for two, three months, and you’ve heard it all. The devil is not original. I give you this: some people are more creative in the way they sin than others. But no sin is going to scandalize the priest because he comes there… And honestly, when I hear the worst sins from the people who I think are the best, I just think: “Wow, Jesus, thank You for Your Mercy. Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you have given us this freedom.” Never go in with a sense of scandal or shock; you’re not going to shock your priest.

And the third thing is just know that the priest is never going to share this with anyone, not even with you outside confession. He’s never going to refer back to it, he’s never going to talk to another priest about it, he’s never going to talk to his own confessor about it. It’s gonna go and die with him. It’s gone straight to the cross. So you can know that the priest is never ever going to talk about this.

You see, God wants you to be healed. He wants you to be free. He wants you to be in the light. So just step into the light, even during this beautiful season of Lent as we come to the greatest light of all, Jesus who is risen from the dead, and just stop and say, “Jesus, please bring me into the light.” And Jesus will take the first step. But you, you need to take the step towards Jesus; towards the Sacrament of Reconciliation, especially as I said, if the sin is great. And ask the Lord for mercy and forgiveness. Yes, it is painful to lift up the rock. Yes, it is shocking to come into the light. But there is no greater freedom than living in the light of Christ.

So I just want to pray for you that you will have the strength and the courage, this Lenten season, this Easter season, to step into the light of Christ.

So Lord Jesus, we thank you for your light. We thank You that You are the light, the merciful, the tender, the gentle light that leads us to freedom. Give us the strength to trust in you. Let us know that you will carry us to freedom, but also give us the courage to come to this sacrament. This sacrament of mercy; this sacrament of embrace; this sacrament of freedom. Lord, we want the freedom that you have won for us on the cross. And for this we rejoice, and we are thankful in Jesus’ name, Amen.

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