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2nd Sunday of Advent, Year C – 2021

It happens to most of us: we sometimes feel we have too much to do, too many things to see to.
The commitments we have taken on are just too many.
The people relying on us for help, or advice, are too many, and their demand on our time is more than we can afford to give.
We may sit down one night and say: « I can’t go on like this, I must make some choices, take some decisions.”

We see it: in such a situation, what is needed is to set some priorities.
What is the most important, to what should I first give my attention, my time, my energy?
In fact, what we need to do is… to discern.

This is exactly what the apostle Paul tells the Philippians to do.
In the 2nd reading of this Sunday, we hear his words (Ph.1:4-6,8-11):

“This is my prayer: (…) that you may be able to discern what is best.”
 
In this period of Advent, this may be what we, too, are called to do: see what is best.
Find out what is really important in life, what we should invest ourselves in.

  • Which are the commitments we can take on at the moment?
  • What are the causes that are worth giving our time and efforts to?
  • Who are the people really in need of assistance?
  • What are the values that should prompt us to act, or withdraw?

And… would God approve of my selection?
Is he the one inspiring me to move in this or that direction?

Discerning what is best… is all about that, and Advent is a good period to reflect on this.

 

Note: Another text is available on a different theme, in French at: https://image-i-nations.com/2e-dimanche-de-lavent-annee-c-2021/

And in a short video, also in French, Ghislaine Deslières offers us another reflection on this 2nd Sunday of Advent at: https://youtu.be/jN7uIU0V9-E

 

Source: Images: Dreamstime.com

Baptism of the Lord, Year B – 2021

Questions are asked of us throughout the day and every day.
Some are about minor things, or small matters, and they require little thinking.
Other questions are about more serious aspects of our lives
and we may need to pause before we give an answer.

Of course, much depends also on… who is asking the question.
What about if it is… GOD who is asking us questions?!
Because he does ask us and these questions reach us personally and intimately.

In the text of the 1st reading today, God’s question is addressed to us through the prophet Isaiah (Is.55:1-11).
We hear him say:

Why spend money… and your labor on what does not satisfy?”
 
This question may reach us when we did not expect it and yet…
it involves something that touches us closely:
our money, our labor, ultimately, our choices and our values.
In simple words: What do we live for?
From what do we expect to find satisfaction, in fact: where do we look for happiness?

After questioning us, God invites us:
“Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live.”
 
At the beginning of a new year, this invitation opens up for us the path to follow –
to listen to the Lord and find the path to LIFE, a life full and meaningful.

Personally, I believe that if this is what God offers, it is the best that can truly SATISFY us.
 

Note: Another reflection is available on a different theme in French at: https://image-i-nations.com/bapteme-du-seigneur-b-2021/

 

Source: Image: Pinterest

2nd Sunday of Advent, Year B – 2020

 We know well about spring cleaning, or autumn cleaning – a time when we clear and clean many things around our houses.

The city council also knows much about road repair – it must be done again and again at the end of a season.

In both cases there is a need for change and improvement.
These two pictures came to my mind as I read the 1st reading and the gospel of this Sunday (Is.40:1-5,9-11; Mk.1:1-8).

We might not get involved in house cleaning or road repair but it may be that… some areas of our lives need change and improvement of some kind for us to welcome the Lord…Our values may need to be upgraded…

  • Our choices may benefit from being more other-centered…
  • Our decisions may gain from being more inspired by lasting concerns…
  • Our attitude to other people may be improved with respect and acceptance…
  • Our commitments may need an increase of generosity…
  • Our faith may want to be deepened…

During this period of Advent, this could be OUR straightening of paths and lowering of mountains.
It may look, at first, as a formidable task but we are not expected to do it on our own.
The Holy Spirit within us is always willing to enable us to do what is asked of us.

Note: Another reflection on a different theme is available in French at: https://image-i-nations.com/?p=16658&preview=true

 

Source: Images: Space-O Technologies   Be HBG!

4th Sunday of Lent, Year B

When told that something is free, or at a big discount, some people will rush to benefit from the offer.
Others may be more suspicious wondering whether this is a genuine bargain or not.

Could it be that we react in a similar way when what is on offer is… from God?!
We, human beings, have sometimes this strange attitude of wanting to prove ourselves to God…
True, it has often been said to us that we must earn what we want.
We should make efforts, sacrifices, and gain merits!

It is definitely not Paul’s conviction which he shares with the first Christians of Ephesus.
He writes to them (2nd reading – Eph.2:4-10):

“God loved us with so much love that he was generous with his mercy…
It is through grace that you have been saved.”
 
And a few lines further in the text, Paul repeats it:
“It is by grace that you have been saved,
not by anything that you have done, but by a gift from God.”
 
Does this mean then that we have nothing to do, simply wait for God to pour his gifts in our lives?
If his blessings are a gift, then we need not strive to be better and do better…

We most certainly have something to do – something yes, simple, yet which we sometimes find difficult.
Our part is to DESIRE and to ACCEPT –
to DESIRE God’s intervention and to ACCEPT his action in our lives, in our very selves.
We are sometimes like the stubborn child, stubborn in our refusal to be guided by God’s Spirit –

  • guided in our options and choices,
  • guided in our plans and decisions,
  • guided in our activities and… our purposeful inaction…

We pretend that we can ‘handle it’, we can manage on our own.

The truth of the matter is that… we don’t do so well!
And all the while God offers his overabundant and generous gifts…
No wonder we struggle and end up dispirited.
God’s Spirit is awaiting our… desire and acceptance to work wonders in us, for us, through us!

Lent is a good time for such a discovery!

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

and a second short one at: https://image-i-nations.com/misericorde-2/

and a video on the gospel personnage of Nicodemus at: https://image-i-nations.com/homme-sage-desirait-savoir-davantage/

Source: Images: cleinman.com  Amazon.com   (handle it)

17th Sunday of Year A

The gospel message is quite… radical!
This statement may appear somehow shocking to some people but it is very true.
The term ‘radical’ comes from a foreign word meaning ‘roots’ and the gospel message does exactly that:
It goes to the root of reality, and it wants to reach us at the very root of our being,

The few verses of Matthew’s gospel assigned for today’s celebration (17th Sunday of Year A – Mt.13:44-46) exemplify this.
The text is short, to the point, and its message is more than a little demanding!

The examples given are very clear and challenging:
A man discovers a treasure in a field, he sells everything he owns to buy the field.
Another finds a pearl of great price and he, too, gives up all he possesses to get this precious jewel.

The two narratives are so clear but the attitude they express is, yes, radical:
Selling everything, giving up all one has – a risky venture:
What if the treasure is a fake?
What if the pearl is not genuine?
But the man trusts the preciousness of his find and has no hesitation in parting with whatever was a ‘treasure’ to him up to then.

He does not hesitate, he does not postpone, he does not delay.
More still the gospel text says: “He goes off happy…” to sell and to buy.

No need of lengthy explanation as to what this means for a Christian.
Our daily choices, the many options offered to us, the decisions called for day in day out, ask for the same radical commitment.
This is the authentic living of Christ’s message.

Source: Images: pampanos.wordpress.com   JesusWalk

 

 

 

 

2nd Sunday of Advent, A

pinterest-winnowingThe Bible speaks of God in so many ways. It describes his qualities and relates his actions. It also tells of his wishes for us, human beings. Often too, it speaks of his future interventions. All this in a language which is not abstract but quite vivid, one could almost say picturesque.

It is the case in today’s gospel (2nd Sunday of Advent, A) where we are told that the Lord is coming “with his winnowing fan in his hand” (Mt.3:1-12).

In our modern high-tech world we do not see much winnowing being done as it was in Jesus’ time. Such activity can still be observed in some areas of Africa or Asia but many of us would not have seen this otherwise than on television.

This does not mean that the message of the gospel text is no longer relevant. If we ask ourselves why winnowing is being done, the answer is clear: To separate the good grain from the straw or other unwanted material. This example speaks of sorting out, or getting rid of something to keep the good, the best.

Is Advent not a good period to do exactly this in our lives? We could look at it as a ‘Sorting out season’ – sorting out the different areas of our daily living: our opinions, our judgements, our values, our attitudes, our choices, our decisions, our plans, our habits, our expectations…

John the Baptist is calling people to ‘Repent…’ This involves a change, a ‘straightening up’ – the text says it clearly: “Prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight.” Perhaps the best way to do this is… to make straight our own paths!

To move away from our crooked ways, our distorted vision of life and people, our narrow-minded opinions, all that is us is a deviation from truth, justice, respect of others. Indeed, winnowing can still be part of a ‘modern’ life-style!

Source: Image: Pinterest