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31st Sunday of Year B – 2021

Today’s gospel text (Mark 12:28-34) ends with a sentence that is most hopeful:

“You are not far from the kingdom of God.”

Who would not want to be told these words?
It is truly reassuring to believe that we are not far from God.
Is it not what we want: to get closer to God, day by day?

But what if it were God who draws closer to us?
This is, in fact, what Jesus says in a text from John’s gospel –
the verse that is given to us as the response (Alleluia) to the 2nd reading:

“If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him,
and we will come to him and make our home with him (John 14:23).

It is a question of… love, yes, the very love that the 1st reading and the gospel are telling us about.

And keeping the word of Jesus, this is the way of loving he expects from us.
 
 
Note: Another reflection is available on a different theme in French at: https://image-i-nations.com/31e-dimanche-de-lannee-b-2021/
 

Source: Image: Honest Talk with God

2nd Sunday of Easter, Year B – 2021

Thomas, the apostle, has been blamed and praised probably in equal measure!
We meet him in the second part of today’s gospel (Jn.20:19-31).
It is obvious that he could speak his mind and was not easily influenced by other people.

His companions tell him that they have seen Jesus, yes, the Lord who is risen.
To Thomas, what the other apostles claim is simply impossible, it cannot be.
He will not accept such a thing, they are dreaming.
To him, his friends are mistaken, they take their hopes for reality.
Thomas tells them clearly:

“Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands,
and put my finger in the mark of the nails,
and my hand in his side,
I will not believe.”
 
One week goes by…
One week of denying… questioning himself… weighing possibilities…
Recognizing the impossibility… and then…

Recognizing the Lord himself!
A recognition that expresses itself in words that Christians have been repeating for centuries.
“My Lord and my God!”
 
From disbelief to adoration!

Thomas’ journey… which could be mine…

 

Note: Another reflection on a different theme is available in French at: https://image-i-nations.com/2e-dimanche-de-paques-annee-b-2021/

Thomas introduces himself in the following video at: https://youtu.be/kp1eb-oBH6w

  

Source: Image: Twitter St. Mary’s School

1st Sunday of Lent, Year B – 2021

We have entered a new period of what is called the liturgical year.
We are now in the Season of Lent – a season rich in meaning.

In the gospel text of this 1st Sunday (Mk.1:13-15), we hear Jesus tell us:
“The time has come.” 
 
The time of what? The time for what?
Jesus answers:
“The kingdom of God has come near.”
 
We are often told to turn to God, to go to him, to be near him.
We are reminded that this Lenten period is meant for that.

What if we changed the perspective, turn it right around to…
allow God to come near to us?…
What if… Lent was the time to… allow God to come near to us?…

This is what he wanted from the very beginning when he created human beings.
He wanted to live in a relationship of proximity, of intimacy with us –
this is the meaning of the 1st reading where we see God making a special alliance with his people (Gn.9:8-15).

A time to allow God to come near to us so that he may pour into our lives all that he wants to bless us with!
Of course, we must believe it, believe HIM.
Of course, we must ‘repent’ – this is part of the process of freeing some space in us so as to be able to receive all that he is offering!

What an offering that is!

 

Note: Another reflection on a different theme is available in French at: https://image-i-nations.com/1er-dimanche-du-careme-annee-b-2021/

 

Source: Image: Facebook

4th Sunday of Advent, Year B – 2020

We get used to things that we do often; used also to the words we repeat day after day.
The words we speak during our liturgical celebrations are no exception and…
sad to say, all too often we repeat them with our minds busy with all kinds of other thoughts.

During the Eucharistic celebration (the Mass) more than once, the priest tells us:
“The Lord be with you.”
We respond immediately – or at least, most of us do –
“And also with you.”
 
These 5 words addressed to us by the celebrant sound somehow like a wish,
a prayerful one but still a wish.
I know a few priests who rather say: “The Lord IS with you.”
 
These are the very words with which the angel Gabriel greeted Mary.
We hear them again in today’s gospel text (Luke 1:26-38).
I wonder if Mary was surprised?… Amazed?… Delighted?…
Wondering what would follow this greeting?…
Did she truly believe the message these words expressed?
 
The first time I heard the words repeated during Mass, I was suddenly made aware of what was said… to ME!
And, for some time after, I kept repeating silently to myself: The Lord is with me…
 
Perhaps this is the purpose of the period of Advent: to realize that God is with us –
yes, already with us!
We need not wait for the Nativity scene to make us believe it.

The reproduction of the Holy Family in a stable, or a cave, or any kind of shelter, will not make this more real.
It will only be a reminder of who God is now and for ever: EMMANUEL – GOD-WITH-US.

Note: Another reflection on a different theme is available in French at: https://image-i-nations.com/4e-dimanche-de-lavent-annee-b-2020/

 

Source: Image: YouTube

Feast of the Ascension, Year A – 2020

The gospel texts have much for us to learn, to reflect upon, to be inspired and to be challenged by.
But at times, there are some texts which are also giving us some comfort and encouragement.
It can be a series of verses, but it can also happen that only one line, or even a few words, have some unexpected comforting message.

This is the case in today’s gospel text (Mt.28:16-20) where we are told:
“The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.
When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.”
 
This is surprising indeed.
The apostles had been with Jesus for some three years.
They had seen, heard and touched him (as John would later write: 1 Jn.1:1),
noticing what he said and observing what he did.

In the 1st reading is is also said:
“After his suffering, he presented himself to them
and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive.”  (Acts 1:1-11)
 
Still some of the apostles doubted – is it not quite astonishing?
Astonishing, yes, but also encouraging for us who are struggling to believe.

There are moments when our faith is tested… questions arise in our minds.
We find ourselves in situations where we no longer see God present with us.
Some circumstances see us puzzled and perplexed, wondering and searching for meaning.
We are trying to make sense of some event that seems meaningless.

We should not think that this makes us guilty in God’s eyes.
He knows us, fragility is part of our human nature.
God understands our difficulty in trusting him in all things and at all times.
What he expects from us is that we try, and try again… and again.

And he is pleased when we make ours the prayer of the man in the gospel who said to Jesus:
“Lord, I believe but help my unbelief.” (Mk.9:24)
In other words: Help this part of me which is still struggling to overcome my doubts…

Note: Another reflection is available on a different theme in French at: https://image-i-nations.com/fete-de-lascension-annee-a-2020/

 
 
Source: Image: www.joyfulheart.com
 
 

 

6th Sunday of Easter, Year A – 2020

After nearly two months of confinement and of social distancing, some people are longing to see…
the light at the end of the tunnel.
With the daily statistics of the Coronavirus more often going up rather than down,
people themselves start feeling… down.

No wonder that we need to repeat and remind one another:
IT WILL GET BETTER.
WE WILL OVERCOME TOGETHER.
TOMORROW WILL BE BRIGHTER.

Do we really believe it?
Do we still HOPE that it will come true?

In today’s 2nd reading (1 P 3:15-18), the apostle Peter tells the first Christians:
“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you
to give the reason for the hope that you have.
 
Do we still have hope and what kind of hope is ours?
We may try to make ourselves believe in better days but we soon find out that…
it does not always work.

What we need is the hope that comes from the promise given to us in today’s gospel message (Jn.14:15-21):

“I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever… the Spirit…”
 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. I live, you also will live…”
“He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him.”
This is solid ground, this is reliable support, this is unfailing assistance:
it is indeed true HOPE.

Note: Another reflection is available on a different theme in French at: https://image-i-nations.com/6e-dimanche-de-paques-annee-a-2020/

  

Source: Image: King James Bible

 

 

2nd Sunday of Easter, Year A – 2020

If we are to believe something, it must be credible.
If we are to believe someone, the person must be reliable.
One should not be naive, or gullible.
Faith demands some… requirements, does it not?

This is human logic, based on experience some will pretend.
The gospel text of this Sunday gives us to meet Thomas (Jn.20:19-31)
who seems to follow precisely this human logic.

Before agreeing to what the other apostles claim, he has to check it out!
Before accepting that Jesus is alive, he must see for himself – see and touch.
He wants to make sure…
So, he states very clearly, and in detail, his requirements… so that he can believe.

Putting requirements to… God!
Making sure that… God is what he says he is!
Is this not the attitude of some of us?

And the wonderful thing is that God does not scoff at our childish demands.
He does not walk away from us, or brush aside these requirements of ours.

He takes us where we are to lead us to where he wants us to be!
This is our God!

Note: A presentation of the gospel scene is offered in a video at: https://youtu.be/kp1eb-oBH6w
 
Another reflection is available in French on a different theme at: https://image-i-nations.com/2e-dimanche-de-paques-annee-a-2020/

Source: Image: churchofjesuschrist.org

5th Sunday of Lent, Year A – 2020

 

W A I T I N G !

I know very few people who like to… WAIT.
In general people do not like delays, postponements, adjournments.
Of course, this can mean a pause, a rest, but this is not what we want.
We are a generation where not only business but busy-ness is the order of the day!

But, if we think about it, a promise involves precisely this: waiting…
Being promised something means that we have to wait for it.
The realization of the promise will come later, it is to come true… in the future.
We will get what has been promised after a certain time, a period possibly unknown, unspecified.

And, this is true of… God’s promises!
We just do not see yet that they can come true… that they WILL come true…
We have to believe that they will.

Writing these words, I come back to the gospel of this Sunday (Jn.11:1-45).
 
“The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 
and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.”
“If you believe, you will see the glory of God.”
 
WILL live, WILL see, WILL never die – it is all to take place in the future,
it has definitely the form of a promise.

But the the wonderful thing is that the promises of God are… reality-in-the-making!
They are blessings-being-REALised!
 
As he was about to raise Lazarus, Jesus told his Father:
“I knew that you always hear me.”
 
FAITH should enable us to say the same… even while waiting…

Note: Another reflection is available in French on a somewhat different theme at: https://image-i-nations.com/5e-dimanche-du-careme-annee-a-2020/

 

Source: Images: Unsplash

 

 

 

 

 

3rd Easter Sunday, Year C – 2019

Last Sunday’s reflection brought us to realize that God – our God – is a surprising God.
He does things, and relates to people, often in a manner that is not what we would expect from him.
He shows this constantly in our own lives, if we only take time to notice it!

In today’s gospel text (Jn.21:1-19), there is an interesting detail that illustrates this.
When the apostles return from the lake with an amazing catch of fish, totally unexpected,
they see on the shore Jesus near a charcoal fire with fish on it and bread.
Breakfast has been prepared and is ready for them!

But then, Jesus tells them:
“Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” (v.10)
 
This is, shall I say, typical of God!
While some of us are not keen on… collaboration, God is.
This seems to be his preferred mode of action: interaction!
He does not want only to do things for us but he wants our cooperation.
He wants our contribution to the great things he is ready to work in our lives and in our world.

It is not often the idea we have of Someone with almighty power as we believe God to be!
But then, our God is not just ‘a’ god, he is the God of Jesus.
He who has become one of us to live with us as one of us.

Something we have never finished learning and reminding ourselves of!

Note: Another reflection is available on a different theme in English at: https://image-i-nations.com/3e-dimanche-de-paques-annee-c-2019/

 

Source: Image: Free Bible Images

Easter Sunday, Year C – 2019

We have to admit it:
the world is full of things that puzzle us,
daily life is rife with events that baffle us,
situations abound when we cannot make sense of what is happening.
Science and psychology give some clues but they are unhelpful in so many cases…

We study, and we search, and we analyze, but…
our minds fail to understand many aspects of our human existence.
and our hearts remain dissatisfied, so very often…
 
And today, celebrating the Feast of the Resurrection of Christ, where are we at?…
The last verse of the gospel text (Jn.20:1-9) tells us:
 
« Till this moment, the disciples had failed to understand the teaching of scripture
that he must rise from the dead. »
 
Amazing, is it not?
They had been living with him for three years, or so.
They had walked with him from day to day.
They had listened to hours of his teaching.
They had witnessed countless ‘signs’ of who he was – God’s special messenger.
Yet, “they had failed to understand…”
 
As they run to what they have been told is an empty tomb, Peter and John do not understand.  
They are convinced the women have lost their minds as they think Jesus’ body has been removed. (Lk.24:11)
The disciples of Emmaus will be told they are “foolish men, slow to believe…” (Lk.24:25)
 
Believing – not seeing, not understanding, not being able to explain, or justify,
But BELIEVING, plainly and simply.

Not only admitting some articles of a creed that one recites with devotion…
Not solely repeating the explanations one has received long ago about ‘the truths of our religion’…
Not being satisfied with accepting the contents of dogmas passed on to us…

But BELIEVING in deed and in truth.
Trusting Someone to the utmost, unconditionally.
Relying on that Someone even in the midst of the most trying situations.
Surrendering to that Someone all that I am and hope to become…

Some may think: ‘It is stupid, absurd, it is pointless any way.
Only people who are naive and gullible can believe.’

Yet, all things considered, perhaps it is foolish… NOT to believe!…

Note: Another reflection is available on a different theme in French at: https://image-i-nations.com/dimanche-de-paques-annee-c-2019/

  

Source: Image: Wikipedia