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33rd Sunday of Year B – 2021

Every week, a new reflection appears here on the texts given to us for the Sunday celebration.
Most times, the text presented refers to one of the three readings assigned for the day.
Today, we will rather look at the Psalm (Ps.16:1,5,8-11) used as a response to the 1st reading.

The words of verse 8 have caught my attention:
“I keep the Lord before me always.”

An amazing statement!
The author of this Psalm affirms that God is present to him at all times.
If it was so for him, why would it not be so for us?

God present to us in all situations,
present in whatever happens,
wherever we find ourselves,
whatever be our condition at the moment.

The Psalmist is convinced that, remaining in God’s presence, he can claim:
“With him at my right hand, nothing can shake me.”

He keeps assured that he will “rest securely’ and that God “will not abandon” him.
He will be blessed with “abounded joy” in God’s presence.

Faith, Hope, Joy: the very ingredients of a life lived in serenity.
A choice offered to us all.

Note: Another reflection. in French, on a theme from the gospel is given at: https://image-i-nations.com/33e-dimanche-de-lannee-b/

And another reflection is available on a different theme also in French at: https://image-i-nations.com/33e-dimanche-de-lannee-b-2021/

 

Source: Image: Online Bible – Knowing Jesus

5th Sunday of Easter, Year A – 2020

In this period of pandemic, the prevailing mood of most people is not that of exuberant joy,
and this is an understatement.
Sadness, loneliness, and for some even hopelessness, characterize their days.
Downcast, dejected, discouraged, would describe many people.
 
In the first line of this Sunday’s gospel (Jn.14:1-12) Jesus says:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. 
You believe in God; believe also in me.”
 
It seems so simple, too simple…
In life – and especially life nowadays – there are many reasons to be troubled.
Sickness, worry about a mortal virus, about money, about the situation of loved ones we cannot visit…
And worry about… death, of course.

We have been repeating to ourselves:
‘It will be fine. Together we will overcome’.
And to reassure ourselves we have displayed pictures of rainbows to assert our hope.
But, somehow, it does not always work…
The discouragement returns and sometimes tears run down the cheeks of this or that person.

Jesus says that we should NOT be troubled…
And he speaks from experience –

  • deserted by his followers (Jn.6:66)
  • abandoned by his close friends (Mt.26:56)
  • betrayed by one (Mt.26:15) and denied by another (Lc.22:54-62)
  • feeling distress and anguish (Lc.22:44; Mt.26:36)

Long ago, the author of the epistle to the Hebrews wrote to the first Christians:
“We do not have a High Priest who cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities,
but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.”
 
The temptation to say: ‘It’s too much. I can’t bear this any more.’
Yet… like an outstretched hand, help is there…
The help of his presence, his strength, his comfort, his relief…

You need not look for the hand, but HE is there!

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

 

Source: Images: thechurchofchristoflatterdays.org Dreamstime.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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: https://youtu.be/jU09NpjS27w
And another reflection on a different theme is available in French at: https://image-i-nations.com/3e-dimanche-du-careme-annee-a-2020/

 

Source: Image: Wikimedia Commons

 

 

 

 

1st Sunday of Advent, Year A – 2019

Many people resent being told what to do!
And… we know that the giving of advice is not always welcome.
Of course, much depends on who gives the advice!

During the period of Advent starting today, the Scripture readings often remind us about living with careful attention.
We are told to be mindful of how we live and be ready for the Lord’s coming.

Today’s gospel (Mt.24:37-44) is one of them.
“So you also must be ready,
because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”

We believe that such texts refer to the coming of the Lord at the end of time.
But what about in the meantime? The time between now and… the end?
It is to be expected that, before the end of time, there will be the end of our time – the moment of our death.
We may life to think that… this is not just yet but… we do not know.

But the best way to prepare for ‘the end’, would it not be to welcome the Lord’s coming every day?
Because he does come every day… often unnoticed, unrecognized, unattended to… but come, he does!
His presence is usually silent, discreet, yet real and personal.
It can make itself experienced in:

  • The words of a book opening up new perspectives…
  • A sudden inspiration to help someone in need…
  • Words of encouragement received from a colleague…
  • Some unexpected gift from a neighbour…
  • The feeling of peace at the sight of a beautiful landscape…
  • A flash of insight into who HE is…
  • An impulse to start on a new way of living the gospel…
  • Or, simply the unmistaken realisation that he is indeed present here and now.

Yes, he does come indeed!

Note: Another reflection is available on a different theme in French at: https://image-i-nations.com/1er-dimanche-de-lavent-annee-a-2019/

 

Source: Image: Bible Verses

Feast of the Holy Trinity, year B

Promises – they are important, we rely on them,
especially when they are from people who are trustworthy.
And then… there are very special promises: those from… God himself!

In today gospel, on the Feast of the Holy Trinity (Year B – Mt.28:16-20), the last verse gives us precisely this:
a promise from Jesus assuring us:

”I am with you always; yes, to the end of time.”
 
An astonishing statement, all the more so when we remember that he also said:
“The Father and I are one” (Jn.10:30) and
“The Spirit is with you, in you” (Jn.14:17).

So, these three verses summarize, in a way, what today’s feast is about:
the Father, Jesus himself and the Spirit are with us, in us,
yes, “until the end of time.”

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

Source: Image: Brainy Quotes

Feast of Mary, Mother of God, 1st January, Year B

At times, we think that to understand God’s words and ways we need long studies and much wisdom.
Wisdom? Yes, but not necessarily the one coming from intellectual achievement!
The wisdom of ordinary people, of ‘simple folks’, as they are sometimes referred to, is closer to genuine insight.

The gospel text of today’s feast of Mary, Mother of God (Year B, Lk.2:16-21) gives us to meet such simple people: the shepherds.
They have much from which we can learn.
Their attitude shows us to way to follow.

“They hurried away
and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger.
They repeatedwhat they had been told about him…
They went back glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen.”
 
Ordinary people making the experience of an extraordinary event.
Their reaction is the proper one:

  • Hastening to discover what God has in store for them.
  • Recognizing God’s presence.
  • Identifying his intervention.
  • Understanding the message there for them.
  • Sharing this message with those around them.
  • Glorifying and praising God for what has been given them to see and hear.

What else could be expected from us today?…

Source: Images: ecryptographer.com   thelutheranschools.org

Feast of the Transfiguration, Year A *

* (This feast takes the place of the 18th Sunday of Year)

The gospel of this Sunday (Feast of the Transfiguration, Year A – Mt.17:1-9) presents us with a scene that is rather unusual in the life of Jesus.
It is no wonder that the apostles are startled and even Peter is lost for words.

The sight of Moses and Elijah present with Jesus – a Jesus so resplendent with light – is already an amazing apparition.
But suddenly there is more: the apostles are covered with a bright cloud and from within comes a voice.
Their reaction is immediate: “They fell on their faces overcome with fear.”

Throughout the Bible, this seems to be the spontaneous reaction of human beings when God comes close to them.
Strange but true: the proximity of God which should be a source of comfort and security is experienced as overwhelming and frightening…

Today’s gospel text goes on saying:
“Jesus came and touched them and said, ‘Do not be afraid’.

It is said that these very words (or their equivalent: “Fear not”) is repeated 365 times in the Bible.
Yes, as many times as there are days in the year!
It appears that it is a lesson we have never finished learning – not to fear anything, and especially NOT God’s close presence!

God’s people throughout their history, God’s friends and God’s messengers – all needed to learn it:
Moses, Joshua, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Mary: Jesus’ mother herself, Jesus’ disciples, the apostle Paul, to mention but a few.

Perhaps… our own names could be listed as well for we share the same need, do we not?…

Source: Images: Pinterest, tapistryministry,org

 

 

15th Sunday of the Year, A

The words we use can express different levels of meaning.
Some words go deeper than others, we know it.

To get a glimpse of something or to catch sight of someone, is different from truly looking at the thing or the person.
Looking at a scene, staring at somebody, this too is different.

Seeing itself is also different from perceiving which implies something more…
And we all know that we may be looking… without seeing!…

This reflection came to me as a few words of today’s gospel caught my attention (15th Sunday of Year A – Mt.13:1-23).

A single line suddenly caught my sight.
It is the one which gives Jesus words as he says:

“Happy are your eyes because they see.” (v.16)

 

I stopped reading, there and then I paused…
I paused and… I asked myself whether this ‘beatitude’ is mine!

My questioning led me to ask whether I truly see the sights, the scenes, the situations of my daily life, as God would want me to…

More still, do I perceive there God’s presence?
Do I discern God’s message?

Perhaps much of life is about SEEING… as God sees!…

Source: Images: Dissolve, Masterfile, goodtherapy,org, Masterfile

3rd Sunday of Easter, Year A

“We had hoped…”
“We had thought this would happen…”
“We expected we could do this…”
“We had anticipated the coming of…”
“We had prepared for that event…”

The very mood of two disciples on the way from Jerusalem to Emmaus (Lk.24:13-35) after the terrible event of the past Friday.
They must have said to themselves that they had been foolish to believe that things could be otherwise…

And suddenly… a stranger joins them on the road and he tells them, in so many words, that they are indeed foolish – « foolish men » (v.25) not to understand what the Scriptures had foretold.

What happened then is something quite unexpected: their hopeless hearts become ‘burning within’ them as they tell each other.
They can hardly believe it and yet… they cannot not believe – it is true, it is REAL, HE is real, he shares bread with them – He is risen.

It was unexpected, unforeseen, unimaginable, unbelievable…
Perhaps… the unexpected, the unforeseen, the unimaginable, the unbelievable is the very place where God likes to make himself present.
There – in all that we no longer hoped for – he can suddenly give so much more than we could ever have dared to expect!

 

One can also see: http://image-i-nations.com/on-the-way-is-it-possible/

Source’ Image: wwww.pinterest.com