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Greetings to each and everyone of you.


This section for English-speaking viewers –
and all those enjoying the culture –

has developed over the months and is now offering materials of all kinds:

texts, images, poems, videos, etc.

It will continue to provide you with rich contents week after week.

 

Good Friday, the Passion of the Lord, Year B – 2024

There are things we enjoy looking at – we spend time looking at this and that aspect of a certain object.
We want to observe every side of it – the position, the color, the texture.

There are other things that we cannot bear to set our eyes on – we quickly move away when suddenly seeing a painting, or a statue.
But it can also be a scene that is causing us to move away, unable to witness what is taking place before us.

The scenes of the suffering and death of Jesus are precisely such a reality that some people find difficult to contemplate.
It is said that the first Christians would not hang on the walls of their homes what we now call a crucifix.
Their imagination was sufficient to inspire their devotion.
It was too painful for them to look at what their beloved Master had experienced,
they would not exhibit pictures of his sufferings and death.

But more still than the representations themselves, what is certainly difficult to sustain is what Jesus was submitted to in all its stark reality…

Jesus-God abandoned by his closest followers and friends…
Jesus-God forgotten by those healed and forgiven by him…
Jesus-God accused by the religious leaders of his time…
Jesus-God judged and condemned by human beings…
Jesus-God crucified like a criminal while being innocent…

But the most shocking is possibly this:
Jesus-God taking on himself our sinful condition…

In the words of the prophet Isaiah:

“Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God…
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:4-5).

What happened to him was FOR us, in our place,
so that WE may be healed, forgiven, granted peace.

Only in silent meditation can this be… perceived… acknowledged… assumed…

 

Note: Another text is available on a different theme, in French, at: https://image-i-nations.com/vendredi-saint-la-passion-du-seigneur-annee-b-2024/

 

Source: Image: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

Holy Thursday, The Last Supper, Year B – 2024

Human beings are complex beings, to say the least!
Somehow, we know this from experience.
The scene of the Last Supper of Jesus with his apostles gives us a vivid picture of it as well (Jean 13:1-15).
Especially the dialogue between Jesus and Peter.

It starts silently as Jesus comes near to Peter and kneels to wash his feet.
Bewildered – I think this is a fair description of him – Peter questions Jesus:

“Lord, do you wash my feet?”

This seems an impossible course of action – it is absolutely unworthy of Jesus, their Master!
Jesus explains that Peter cannot understand now, but he will understand later.
Peter remains adamant:

“You shall never wash my feet.”

He will finally accept when Jesus links this gesture to the relationship with him that Peter wants very much, of course.

The attitude of Peter is perhaps characteristic of our reaction in certain situations…
We present God with… questions and protestations!…
It is as if, somehow, we knew better than God!

God could give us the answer of Jesus to Peter:
“You cannot understand now…”

It is so very true: there are many situations that puzzle us.
Many events baffle us completely.
We are bewildered by what takes place before our eyes, or in our lives.

Perhaps we need to follow the example Peter’s yielding to Jesus’ request.
What brought the change in the apostle was his desire to remain for ever the friend of Jesus.
His strong affirmation: “You shall never wash my feet”,
was transformed by his eagerness to remain a faithful friend and disciple for ever…

Our repeated ‘never’ can also be transformed into ‘for ever’…
Thus becoming, in our turn, faithful friends and disciples of Christ.

 

Note: Another text is available on a different theme, in French, at: https://image-i-nations.com/jeudi-saint-la-cene-du-seigneur-annee-b-2024/

 

Source: Image: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

International Day for the Right to the Truth Concerning Gross Human Rights Violations – 24 March

 The Right to the Truth

The right to the truth is often invoked in the context of gross violations of human rights and grave breaches of humanitarian law. The relatives of victims of summary executions, enforced disappearance, missing persons, abducted children, torture, require to know what happened to them. The right to the truth implies knowing the full and complete truth as to the events that transpired, their specific circumstances, and who participated in them, including knowing the circumstances in which the violations took place, as well as the reasons for them.

International Day

Each year, on 24 March, the International Day for the Right to the Truth Concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims is observed.

This annual observance pays tribute to the memory of Monsignor Óscar Arnulfo Romero, who was murdered on 24 March 1980. Monsignor Romero was actively engaged in denouncing violations of the human rights of the most vulnerable individuals in El Salvador.

Purpose

The purpose of the Day is to:

  • Honour the memory of victims of gross and systematic human rights violations and promote the importance of the right to truth and justice;
  • Pay tribute to those who have devoted their lives to, and lost their lives in, the struggle to promote and protect human rights for all;
  • Recognize, in particular, the important work and values of Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero, of El Salvador, who was assasinated on 24 March 1980, after denouncing violations of the human rights of the most vulnerable populations and defending the principles of protecting lives, promoting human dignity and opposition to all forms of violence.

Background

On 21 December 2010, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 24 March as the International Day for the Right to the Truth concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims.

The date was chosen because on 24 March 1980, Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero of El Salvador was assassinated, after denouncing violations of human rights.

In a study conducted in 2006 the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights concluded that the right to the truth about gross human rights violations and serious violations of human rights law is an inalienable and autonomous right, linked to the duty and obligation of the State to protect and guarantee human rights, to conduct effective investigations and to guarantee effective remedy and reparations.

The study affirms that the right to the truth implies knowing the full and complete truth as to the events that transpired, their specific circumstances, and who participated in them, including knowing the circumstances in which the violations took place, as well as the reasons for them.

In a 2009 report on the Right to the Truth, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights identified best practices for the effective implementation of this right, in particular practices relating to archives and records concerning gross violations of human rights, and programmes on the protection of witnesses and other persons involved in trials connected with such violations.

The Commission on the Truth for El Salvador was established in accordance with the Mexico Agreements of 27 April 1991 to investigate serious acts of violence that had occurred since 1980 and whose impact on society was deemed to require an urgent public knowledge of the truth.  In its report of 15 March 1993, the Commission documented the facts of the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero by pro-government forces, the so-called « death squads ».  He was shot dead by an assassin as he celebrated mass on 24 March 1980.

 

Source: Text: https://www.un.org/en/observances/right-to-truth-day   Image: pexels.com (Gabriel Dalton)   2nd image: Journée mondiale

 

 

Palm Sunday, Year B – 2024

The scene of Jesus entering Jerusalem on a donkey is rich in colorful details.
Bible commentators and spiritual writers, each picks up the aspect of the text which he/she finds deserves more attention.

Just now, one point strikes me – it is expressed in the first part of the narrative in Mark’s gospel (Mark 11:1-10).
Jesus tells the two apostles he is sending:

“Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it,
you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden.
Untie it and bring it here.
If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’
say, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly’.”

The same scene of Jesus entering Jerusalem is  reported also by the evangelist Luke (Luke 19:39-40).

He has recorded a detail not mentioned by the other writers –
it is about the reaction of the Pharisees to the shouts of acclaim of the people welcoming Jesus.

“Some Pharisees in the crowd said to him, ‘Master, check your disciples’.
But he answered, ‘I tell you, if these keep silence the stones will cry out’.”

Amazing how people can put objections to… God.
And we can sometimes be among such people!

In the first instance, Jesus had, in fact, foreseen the objection – he warns his apostles about it.
In the second case, he replies to the Pharisees with his usual aplomb –
a self-assurance his opponents do not appreciate!

At the beginning of the Holy Week, it may be appropriate to reflect on our own… objections to God…

– When some situations suggest that God may expect this, or that, from us…
– When, through certain events, God calls us to reappraise some of our choices…
– When, through people around us, God invites us to make a courageous decision…
– When a gentle but persuasive inner voice inspires us to follow a certain path…

Do we offer God objections that we judge valid and reasonable?
Do we try to cleverly escape God’s challenge presenting him with good reasons not to answer his desire?

Perhaps, as Mark’s gospel states:
‘The Lord needs this…’

 

Note: In the following video (in French), Diane Dargis pursues the reflection on this scene at: https://youtu.be/Txjh2LJK_-o?si=lXy1CFkR8FB2QCEo

Note: Another text is available on a different theme, in French, at: https://image-i-nations.com/dimanche-des-rameaux-annee-b-2024/

Source: Images: unsplash.com (Dmitriy Serafin)        FreeBibleimages

World Water Day – 24 March 2024

This year’s World Water Day, on 22 March 2024, will take place under the theme ‘Leveraging Water for Peace’.

The UN Secretary-General António Guterres, in his World Water Day message, emphasized the urgent need for increased transboundary water cooperation:

  • “Water for peace is the theme of this year’s World Water Day. Achieving it relies on far greater cooperation. Today, 153 countries share water resources. Yet only twenty-four have reported cooperation agreements for all their shared water. We must accelerate efforts to work together across borders, and I urge all countries to join and implement the United Nations Water Convention – which promotes managing shared water resources sustainably.“

Education for Sustainable Development          Introduction

Img of esd

The overall objective of the UNECE Strategy for Education for Sustainable Development is to equip people with knowledge of and skills in sustainable development, making them more competent and confident while at the same time increasing their opportunities for leading healthy and productive lifestyles in harmony with nature and with concern for social values, gender equity and cultural diversity. 
Source: Text: https://unece.org/environmental-policy/

The Alphabet of Lent – Letter Z

Z pour Zacchaeus

He was small of stature but determined as no one else.
He knew what he wanted and… what he did not want!
He wanted to see the Man of Nazareth, and he did not want anything, or anyone, to prevent him from doing so!

He used a trick which served him well: he climbed a tree, a sycamore was there for his purpose.
He has seen, or rather… he has been seen!
He was seen, and he was challenged by the one he wanted to catch sight of.
From then on, his life was never the same again (Luke 19:1-10).

Many of you reading these lines recall the name of this original fellow.
Zacchaeus, yes, Zacchaeus, the man with a more than doubtful reputation in the eyes of many.
But, also, the man who has received what his visitor was offering him: salvation, nothing less!

His life of duplicity became an example of a life of honesty and generosity.
Welcoming Christ in our lives – non once only but permanently – can achieve such a transformation!

For each one of us, ‘salvation’ will take on a personalized form and will be realized from day to day.
This period of Lent, coming to an end, may have allowed us to discover this…

 

Note: In the following video Zachaeus, personified by Augustine Sellam, shares with us his experience of meeting the Man of Nazareth: https://youtu.be/7TIwA1YgPII?si=oifyPpVawnYhEKWX

 

Source: Image: freebibleimages.org

The Alphabet of Lent – Letter Y

Y for Yeast

Some people dream of doing great things in life.
Many want to achieve some worthwhile goal.
Others try to distinguish themselves with important achievements.

There is nothing wrong with this – on the contrary, it is important to have some ideal in life.
But this should not make us forget the importance of… small things.
Do you remember the slogan of some years ago: “Small is beautiful”?
It is even the title of a well-known book in some circles. *

What is interesting to remember is that Jesus thought along those lines!
Two sentences of what he said have been made into a parable –
only two sentences to describe God’s kingdom!

“Again he asked, “What shall I compare the kingdom of God to?
It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour
until it worked all through the dough” (Luke 13:20-21).

Women know it, and chefs do also: it takes a tiny bit of yeast to have a large amount of dough rise.
Jesus compares the kingdom of God to this process!

The kingdom of God – an amazing reality that includes so much… coming from very little, if we think of it…
God’s life-giving presence, God’s saving action… reaching people through:

– a little good-will to recognize someone’s need…
– a small amount of generosity…
– a bit of true compassion…
– a little thoughtfulness for people around…
– a small gesture of forgiveness to someone…
– a bit of readiness to give help…
– a tiny bit of self-forgetfulness…
– a small amount of empathy…

Every ounce of each one’s contribution – the personal ‘yeast’ of you and me –
this builds and spreads God’s kingdom since God himself makes use it!

 

* Note: SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL, A study of Economics as if People Mattered, E.F. Schumacher

 

Source: Image: www.pexels.com (Felicity Tai)

L’Alphabet du Carême – Lettre X

X pour xénophobie

Un mot qui, vous l’avez deviné, ne se trouve pas dans les textes de l’évangile.
Mais la réalité à laquelle il réfère s’y trouve bien et Jésus l’a adressée clairement.
Il s’agit d’une scène peut-être moins connue de l’évangile mais elle nous réserve un message important (Marc 9:38-39).

« Jean, l’un des Douze, dit à Jésus:
« Maître, nous avons vu quelqu’un expulser les démons en ton nom;
nous l’en avons empêché, car il n’est pas de ceux qui nous suivent. »

Certain/es d’entre nous – plusieurs d’entre nous? – réagiraient peut-être comme Jean l’a fait…
Jean était pourtant reconnu comme le disciple que Jésus aimait…
Mais il avait encore une leçon importante à apprendre de son Maître.

Nous nous sentons peut-être mal à l’aise devant l’initiative de Jean.
Interdire quelqu’un d’expulser les démons au nom de Jésus, ce n’est pas un geste sans conséquence.
Ce qui suscite ce geste, la motivation qui l’inspire est un acte répréhensible.
Jésus ne manque pas de corriger son apôtre:

« Jésus répondit: « Ne l’en empêchez pas,
car celui qui fait un miracle en mon nom
ne peut pas, aussitôt après, mal parler de moi;
celui qui n’est pas contre nous est pour nous ».

Une définition simple de la xénophobie la décrit comme une hostilité envers les étrangers.
Autrement dit: on tient à distance ceux/celles qui n’appartiennent pas à notre groupe.

Ces gens ne sont pas des nôtres et on ne veut pas qu’ils/elles s’immiscent dans nos affaires!
Leur manière de parler, leur façon d’agir, nous déplaisent.
On les soupçonne, on les considère comme ‘étranges’ – ne sont-ils pas justement des ‘étrangers’?
Il se peut même que, secrètement, les voyant différents de nous, nous les jugions… moins bons que nous!

Les paroles de Jésus demeurent toujours aussi appropriées au 21è siècle qu’elles ne l’étaient au 1er siècle:
« Celui qui n’est pas contre nous est pour nous ».

Une leçon qu’il nous faut apprendre, nous aussi, et non seulement en ce qui concerne la pratique religieuse.
Les relations sociales, les interactions de groupe, les rencontres quotidiennes –
c’est tout notre agir humain qui doit être inspiré par l’enseignement du Christ.

Il n’attend rien de moins de ceux/celles qui se nomment ses disciples…

Source: Image: FreeBibleimages

The Alphabet of Lent – Letter X

X for xenophobia

A word that, you have guessed, is not found in the texts of the gospel.
But the reality to which it refers is really there, and Jesus has addressed it openly.
It is about a scene which is perhaps less known, but it has an important message for us (Mark 9:38-40).

“Teacher,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name
and we told him to stop,
because he was not one of us.”

Some of us – many of us perhaps? – would react as John did.
John was known as the disciple Jesus especially loved…
Yet, he still needed to learn an important lesson from his Master.

We may feel uneasy at John’s initiative.
To forbid someone to drives out demons in the name of Jesus is not an attitude that is without consequence.
What prompts this act, the motivation that inspires it, is reprehensible.
Jesus does not fail to correct his apostle:

“Do not stop him,” Jesus said.
“For no one who does a miracle in my name
can in the next moment say anything bad about me,
for whoever is not against us is for us”.

A definition of xenophobia, easy to understand, describes it as hostility towards strangers.
In other words: we keep at a distance from those who do not belong to our own group.

Those people are not from among us, and we do not want them to meddle in what concerns us!
Their way of speaking, their manners, displease us.
We suspect them, we consider them ‘strange’ – are they not precisely ‘strangers’?
It can even be that, secretly, seeing them different from us, we may judge them… less good than we are!

The words of Jesus remain as appropriate in this 21st century as they were in the first century:
“Whoever is not against us is for us”.

A lesson that we need to learn and not only as regards religious practice.
Social relations, group interactions, daily meetings –
it is our whole human interaction that must be inspired by the teaching of Christ.

He expects no less from those who call themselves his disciples…

 

Source: Image: Scripture Images

The Alphabet of Lent – Letter W

W for Wonder

There are words which, while having the same spelling, can have different meanings.
This is the case with the word: WONDER.

One can be wondering in the sense that he/she is asking questions about a certain thing.
He is wondering about the truth of a statement, while she is wondering whether her friend will call her.
But a person can be filled with wonder at the splendor of a landscape.

The second meaning of the word is retained for this reflection.
The word itself is not found as such in the gospel, but its meaning is revealed in certain scenes.
It expresses something which cause enthusiasm.
A situation, an experience that provokes surprise, admiration, awe.
One cannot prevent oneself to voice his/her wonderment!

A scene from the gospel depicts well such a reaction.
It is about the disciples who return after having been sent by Jesus to preach and to heal the sick.
They come back very happy at the result of their apostolic efforts.

“The seventy-two returned with joy and said,
“Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name” (Luke 10:17).

It seems that their positive experience has gone beyond what they had anticipated,
and they describe to Jesus their surprise and their joy.

Jesus himself had, one day, what we could call his ‘WOW’ moment – a moment of real wonder.
He was then expressing to his Father his admiration for the privileged revelation given to the little ones:

“I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned,
and revealed them to little children.
Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do” (Matthew 11:25-26).

If someone asked you of you ever had such a ‘WOW moment’…
Could you recall, in your mind, a situation when you spontaneously exclaimed: ‘WOW’! ?

Lent can prove a period that is especially appropriate to find again a spirit of admiration –
admiration for all that is WELL, BEAUTIFUL, and GOOD…

And, also, to give thanks to God who gives us to live such moments –
when we are possessed by wonderment, filled with enthusiasm!

The Psalmist had tasted those moments when he said:
“Lord, my God, many are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us…
Were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare” (Psalm 40:5).

It is up to us to make a personalized version of his text…

 

Source: Image: Scripture Images