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International Day of Conscience – 5 ِApril

Promoting a Culture of Peace with Love and Conscience

The preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that « disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of humankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people. » Moreover, article 1 of the Declaration states that « all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood. »

The task of the United Nations to save future generations from the scourge of war requires transformation towards a culture of peace, which consists of values, attitudes and behaviours that reflect and inspire social interaction and sharing based on the principles of freedom, justice and democracy, all human rights, tolerance and solidarity, that reject violence and endeavour to prevent conflicts by tackling their root causes to solve problems through dialogue and negotiation and that guarantee the full exercise of all rights and the means to participate fully in the development process of their society.

Origins of a Culture of Peace

The concept of a culture of peace emerged from the International Congress on Peace in the Minds of Men, organized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Côte d’Ivoire in July 1989. Since then the promotion of a culture of peace has increasingly been seen as a worthwhile objective of the international community. The evolving concept has inspired activities at so many levels and in so many regions with the full participation of civil society that the culture of peace is gradually taking on the characteristics of a global movement.


Source: Text (abridged) & Image:    Photo: UN Photo/Mohamad Almahady People taking part in activities related to the Peace and Peaceful Coexistence Festival organized by the Communication and Public Information Section of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID).


1st Sunday of Lent, Year A – 2023

A very small word (in the English language), it can determine much of life… IF…

 IF… suggests some conditions,
          opens up possibilities,
          outlines options,
          implies choices,
          calls on a person’s freedom…

It is the very word that we find repeated three times in today’s gospel text (Matthew 4:1-11).
Satan, sometimes referred to as ‘the Devil’, uses this expression in addressing Jesus.
He frames in this way the temptations with which he challenges Jesus.

Twice, Satan says:
       “If you are the Son of God…”

Having failed to obtain what he wants, Satan changes the format of his attack and says:
      “If you will bow down and worship me.”

The strategy of the Devil is threefold, it is all at once:

  • a challenge to Jesus very identity,
  • a test of his total commitment to the only God,
  • a promise of reward for giving in to the temptation.

Our daily life presents us with many ‘IF situations’…
They have the same purpose:
challenging our identity and testing our commitment to God,
with a promise, of course, to satisfy our longing, and our craving, for some desired ‘good’.

Often times, we are faced with these words or similar ones:
         ‘If you think about it, you will agree that…
         ‘If you see what others do, you will accept also…
         ‘If you remember what happened, you cannot refuse…
         ‘If you love me, you will do this…

Each one of us can make his/her own list of IF statements of confrontation, or provocation.
Every one entails a decision that will make clear who we are, and to whom we have committed ourselves.

This period of Lent is precisely a moment of becoming aware of
who we are,
and who God is for us.

The very challenge that Jesus faced.
He cannot fail to help us respond to it as he did.


Note: Another text is available on a different theme, in French at:


Source: Image: Aleteia

6th Sunday of Year A – 2023

You may have overheard a conversation when, suddenly, one of the speakers said:
“It’s a matter of life and death.”
You knew immediately that they were speaking about some serious matter.
In life, there are situations which are that important and we are aware of it.

The 1st reading of today’s celebration leads us to think of such situations (Ecclesiasticus 15:15-20).
The writer, Ben Sira, says clearly:

Man has life and death before him;
whichever a man likes better will be given him.”

Some people may think that this arises as a sudden happening and that a choice has to be made instantly.
Most often, it is not so.
The choice is in fact a multiple one, spread over months and years.
Options are offered to us leading to decisions, one after the other.
And… these decisions fashion the person we become.

The options vary in kind and their impact is also different in intensity.
They open up different opportunities…

      • compassion or aggression
      • honesty or deceit
      • faithfulness or betrayal
      • authenticity or corruption
      • courage or cowardice
      • generosity or selfishness
      • forgiveness or revenge

and the list can go on, every time offering a challenge –
the challenge to become a better person, more truly human, more essentially Christ-like, or… the opposite.

LIFE… or DEATH options, this is what they are.
Of course, they lead to a more meaningful and happier life or… the opposite.

The choice remains ours: what we like better will be given to us –
this is the astonishing gift of freedom!

Note: Another text is available on a different theme, in French at:


Source: Image: Monday Morning Minutes




24th Sunday of Year C – 2022

A gospel text – THE gospel text so well known! (Luke 15:11-32).
Too well known, perhaps… to the point that we fail to recognize the real identity of the people –
those presented in Jesus’ parable.

A son like… many other…
Cherished by a loving father…
Unaware of all that the father’s love does lavish on him…
Dreaming of other places where freedom should be found…
Clinging to the illusion that no bonds or boundaries is liberty…
Wanting to enjoy life in his own way…
Suddenly aware of all that has been lost…
Making the experience of need, real need…
Realizing that what he had was the answer to this need…







A son like many… of us…
We may try not to notice our situation as it is…
We may use different means to deceive ourselves…
We may say that all is well while knowing it is not…
We may cling to the illusion that being free is all that matters…
We may pretend that we do not need anybody…
We may protest any intervention of those near to us seeing it as interference…
We may claim that we do not need ‘a god’ and all that it means…
We may have gone far… far away indeed… far from our true selves…

Shall we, at long last, “come to our senses” as the young man in the parable did?
Shall we have the courage to “leave this place” of pseudo-freedom and start on the way to return ‘home’?
Shall we dare to acknowledge to ourselves, and to our Father, that we have not been what he and we want most?

Then, the festive spirit that will be ours can hardly be described – it needs to be experienced!


Note: Another reflection is available on a different theme in French at:


Source: Images:

World Bicycle Day – 3 June

For many of us, riding a bicycle without training wheels is the first challenging physical activity we ever learn how to master. We all remember, don’t we? A running start. The protective hand secured to the bicycle seat is released. And then — ZOOM! — the child is off and peddling, and a lifetime of adventure and freedom awaits aboard a succession of beloved two-wheeled conveyances. In the spirit of that very first trip, let’s take a closer look at World Bicycle Day, June 3, shall we?

Training wheels or tandem, cycle your worries away on World Bicycle Day on June 3.


Getting your first bicycle and learning how to ride it is a rite of passage for almost all of us. Despite the marks and scabs from falling from our bicycles while learning, it is a memory we always cherish. Bicycling is quite a useful activity — in the hustle and bustle of today’s world, bicycling allows us to exercise our muscles, cut back on fuel consumption as it is quite a popular alternative to driving a car, and feel the wind in our hair. Really, there is nothing quite like the exhilaration of riding a bicycle. World Bicycle Day acknowledges this and the durability and longevity of the bicycle. Providing a simple and sustainable means of transportation, bicycling is rejuvenating for our physical- and mental health, and good for the economy, and the environment. 

The United Nations established World Bicycle Day for many reasons. As basic as it is, the impact of the bicycle on society is quite transformative — even the poorest people get access to basic transport with the bicycle. 

It all started when U.S.-based Professor Leszek Sibilski initiated a grassroots campaign with his sociology class to promote a U.N. resolution that would designate a day for the advocacy and celebration of the humble bicycle all over the world. In 2015, Sibilski dedicated himself to an academic project, exploring bicycles and their role in development. His project catapulted into a massive movement backed by ‘Sustainable Mobility for All,’ and eventually resulted in a dedicated international day set by the United Nations for the promotion of bicycling. On April 12, 2018, the resolution declaring June 3 as World Bicycle Day was unanimously adopted by all 193 member states of the UN General Assembly. The resolution was greatly supported by Turkmenistan and co-sponsored by around 56 countries. 


Source: Text:    Image: Freepik

Africa Day – 25 May

Africa Day (formerly African Freedom Day and African Liberation Day) is the annual commemoration of the foundation of the Organisation of African Unity on 25 May 1963. It is celebrated in various countries on the African continent, as well as around the world. The organisation was transformed into the African Union on 9 July 2002 in Durban, South Africa, but the holiday continues to be celebrated on 25 May.


The First Congress of Independent African States was held in AccraGhana on 15 April 1958. It was convened by Prime Minister of Ghana Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, and comprised representatives from Egypt (then a constituent part of the United Arab Republic), EthiopiaLiberiaLibyaMoroccoSudanTunisia, the Union of the Peoples of Cameroon and of the host country Ghana. The Union of South Africa was not invited. The conference showcased progress of liberation movements on the African continent in addition to symbolising the determination of the people of Africa to free themselves from foreign domination and exploitation. Although the Pan-African Congress had been working towards similar goals since its foundation in 1900, this was the first time such a meeting had taken place on African soil.

The Conference called for the founding of an African Freedom Day, a day to « …mark each year the onward progress of the liberation movement, and to symbolise the determination of the people of Africa to free themselves from foreign domination and exploitation. »

The conference was notable in that it laid the basis for the subsequent meetings of African heads of state and government during the Casablanca Group and the Monrovia Group era, until the formation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in 1963.


Source: Text: Wikipedia    Image: facebook

4th Sunday of Lent, Year C – 2022

In many ways, feelings and emotions mold our personalities.
They mark our actions and reactions.
They influence much of what we live, for better or for worse.

Today’s gospel is filled with emotions (Luke 15:1-3,11-32):
The eagerness of sinners to hear Jesus.
The frustration of the Pharisees seeing them at the table.
The desire for freedom of the younger son.
The compassion and generosity of the father.
The anger of the jealous brother.

In this whole panorama describing human attitudes, there is one verse that stands out.
It refers to the young man and says:
“He came to himself” (v.17).
And this has been quite a long journey indeed!
He has gone through a whole landscape of feelings.


His desire for freedom, his enjoyment of life’s pleasures,
his hunger and need, the awareness of what he has lost,
his regret, his planning to return home,
the preparation of his ‘confession’ to his father,
and… finally setting on the road…
with, probably, more than a little bitterness.

This was the l o n g  process of ‘coming to himself’…
And, strangely enough, it had to take place before he could come to his father!

This may be the experience we need to make in this period of Lent:
We have to come to ourselves.
We have to become aware of what lies deep within us –
become aware and acknowledge what makes us act and react as we do.

Then, with all that ‘inhabits’ the depths of our being,
we will be able to set on the way to return to our Father.

This may involve a long pilgrimage but the Spirit can accompany us every step of the way…
If we allow him to do so…


And another reflection, on a different theme, is available in French at:


Source: Images: Free Bible Images   




International Day of Happiness – 20 March 2022

The International Day of Happiness is observed every year all over the world on March 20 to highlight the importance of happiness in the lives of people.

The day recognizes happiness as the one of the most important need of human being and also highlights why it is essential to discuss about it. Apart from the individual happiness it also focuses on over societies happiness, countries happiness. So it guides governments, organisations so they can make public policies or corporate policies which can improve happiness quotient of the people in country or for any specific organisation also.

History of International Day of Happiness 2022

The United Nations started to celebrate the International Day of Happiness in 2013 but a resolution for the same was passed on July 12, 2012. Bhutan was the first country which emphasized on the importance of national happiness in 1970s. They brought the concept of Gross National Happiness over Gross National Product.

It shows that just by increasing GDP or income of the people it doesn’t guarantee happiness. But there are other factors which also plays major role in happiness of the person. The World Happiness Report, evaluates global happiness from various countries and then publish the happiness report before World Happiness Day on March 20. To rank various countries on happiness it considers six characteristics like GDP per capita, social support, life expectancy, freedom to make choices, generosity, and perception of corruption.


Source: Text: The Free Press Journal   Image: pexels

3rd Sunday of Lent, Year A – 2020

The 1st reading on this 3rd Sunday of Lent (Year A – Exodus 17:3-7) presents us with a scene known to many of us.
The people of Israel complain that they have no water and accuse Moses of bringing them to a desert place.
He, in turn, complains to the Lord who tells him what to do to remedy the situation.
Moses strikes a rock and water gushes out abundantly.

We say: Fantastic! Wonderful!
We may add with religious admiration: ‘God answers the prayer of his servant!’
This is one aspect of the scene.

There is another, no less important if seldom mentioned.
Moses gives the location where this happened the names of:
Massah which means testing, and Meribah which means quarrelling.

These names are definitely foreign to us, but the reality they describe is most certainly familiar!
No one can doubt that, in our world today, there is much of this: testing and quarrelling.

What had led the Israelites to quarrel, to test Moses, and more still, to test God?
They were thirsty.
The 1st Sunday of Lent spoke about hunger, this one speaks of thirst – basic human needs indeed.

Our hunger and our thirst can take many forms –
bread and water are only representations of all that we long for:
health and wealth, power and prestige, freedom and domination – and so much more.

This ‘so much more’ hides ONE deeper need:
it is the one mentioned in the last verse of the text:
« The Israelites “tested the Lord saying,
‘Is the Lord among us or not?’ ”
This is the need for God’s presence with us.
It may remain hidden deeply within us, but it is there…
This period of Lent is welcome if it enables us to identify both, the need AND the presence!

Note: The scene of the gospel of the Samaritan at the well is presented in a video (in English) at:
And another reflection on a different theme is available in French at:


Source: Image: Wikimedia Commons





13th Sunday of Year C – 2019

There are things we are so used to that, somehow, we take them for granted.
This is the case, I think, for the Apostles of Jesus – we know very well that there were 12 of them.
And it is as if this number were, in a way, ‘sacred’ –
we can only imagine the group of them counting 12 men, no more, no less!

But today’s gospel text (Lk.9:51-62) could lead us to think otherwise.
It seems rather obvious that there was someone who wanted to be a disciple of Jesus 
but the Master did not seem to welcome him readily.
While it is also very clear that he, Jesus, called some people who were hesitant,
if not reluctant, to follow him.

God’s call is not something having results ‘as a matter of fact’, we could say.
His invitations are not obligations… they belong more to the realm of… fascination, I would say!
Fascination for who he is and what he asks us to be and to become. 

God has created us free beings and allows us to remain so ‘for ever after’!
He invites us to live in close friendship with him but leaves it to us to accept, or refuse, his offer.
He wants us to share in Jesus’ mission of telling of his love and of what he has in store for us,
but here again his plan can fail, as far as we are concerned…

It does not mean that everyone must leave family, relatives, and all his/her possessions.
But leaving attitudes that are not compatible with the lifestyle of a follower of Christ.
Leaving some plans that go against God’s way for us.
Leaving some decisions based on pseudo-values and not gospel values –
all this is definitely part and parcel of answering God’s call in today’s world.

We can be mistaken in thinking that the 12 men called by Jesus ended the process of God calling people.
It is rather an on-going adventure – for us and… for God.
And we definitely have a place in the unfolding of his plan in this 21st century!

Note: Another reflection is available on a different theme in French at:


Source: Images: YouTube   Intersect