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19th Sunday of Year C – 2022

The 2nd reading of this Sunday speaks of people and events long gone (Hebrew 11:1-2,8-19).
The people involved and their experiences may seem distant and strange to us and yet…
Yet, what is described in this text has a message that is very relevant to us in our own time.

Those people are often referred to as ‘our ancestors in the faith’.
They saw themselves as “strangers and nomads on earth.”

What does this really mean?
The text goes on to explain what the words express:

“People who use such terms about  themselves make it quite plain  that they are in search of their real homeland.”

If we think about it, is this not what we, ourselves, are meant to be: strangers and nomads?
Is our life on this planet not meant to be a search for another place –
“the place founded for us by God », as the text says.

Not being satisfied, not being engrossed in what is available, but longing for something else…
Looking, searching, trying to find…
Not being totally absorbed in the present, but being aware that there is more awaiting us…

Satisfying experiences, fulfilling achievements, rewarding adventures –
all this can be gratifying but… this is not the full purpose of our existence on this earth.

There is MORE – deeper knowledge, greater fulfilment, more intense happiness.
MORE – a more authentic life, a closer relationship with the God who made us.

We do not see this, but we believe that this is what is waiting for us.
And, the first lines of the reading tell us:

“Faith is confidence in what we hope for 
and assurance about what we do not see.”

 

Note: Another reflection is available on a different theme in French at: https://image-i-nations.com/19e-dimanche-de-lannee-c-2022/

 

Source: Images: Scripture Images   Unsplash

18th Sunday of Year C – 2022

Belongings, possessions, riches – all items referring to one’s property.
They describe things of value acquired by someone.
Houses, cars, jewels, come immediately to mind, but many more ordinary or unusual items could also be mentioned!

The author of today’s 1st reading (Ecclesiastes 1:2; 2:21-23) had his own detailed list of all that he had managed to obtain for himself.
(The list is in the words at the beginning of chapter 2 not read in the celebration itself but can be found in the Bible).
Yet, this rich man admitted that all his riches did not make him happy.

This Bible text suggested another one published as a modern parable which I share with you.

A very rich and clever man had gathered a large  fortune. He had managed to get all the things he wanted. After some time, he realized he had everything, except happiness.
One day, he heard about a wise man living by himself in the desert. Of him, people said he was the happiest man in the world and that it was enough to wear his shirt to be fully happy.

The rich man went to him; he bowed low offering him a bag filled with gold and asking to buy his shirt.
“I cannot sell it to you”, said the wise man.
“Why not”, said the rich man.
“Because I have none.”
“If you don’t have even a shirt, how can you be happy?”
To this, the wise man replied, “Only one thing makes a human being happy: a treasure. Woe to him/her who is without a treasure.”
The man with the large fortune exclaimed: “Treasures, I have so many, yet I am not happy,”
Then, the words of wisdom slowly came out: “You have money in plenty and possessions of all kinds, but you have no treasure. This is why you are so sad.”

The exclamation reaches to each one: “Who to him/her who is without a treasure.”

But… not just any treasure can bring happiness…
It is the one Jesus mentions in today’s gospel (Luke 12:13-21):
“Making himself (herself) rich in the sight of God.»
 
Something to be learned, day after day, by each and everyone who longs to be… HAPPY…

 

Note: Another reflection is available on a similar theme but presented differently in French at: https://image-i-nations.com/18e-dimanche-de-lannee-c-2022/

 

Source: Text of the modern parable of the rich man: Translation and adaptation of Lettie Morse, Living with Christ, 20 June 1982      Images: Pinterest  Adobe Stock

Global Day of Parents – 1st June 2022

Appreciate All Parents Throughout the World

Since the 1980s, the important role of the family has increasingly come to the attention of the international community. The General Assembly adopted a number of resolutions and proclaimed the International Year of the Family and the International Day of Families.

Emphasizing the critical role of parents in the rearing of children, the Global Day of Parents recognizes that the family has the primary responsibility for the nurturing and protection of children. For the full and harmonious development of their personality, children should grow up in a family environment and in an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding.

Designated by the General Assembly in 2012, Global Day of Parents provides an opportunity to appreciate all parents for their « selfless commitment to children and their lifelong sacrifice towards nurturing this relationship. »

Greater support needed for working parents as COVID-19 takes hold

Families bear the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic. As the anchors of the family and the foundation of our communities and societies, parents have the responsibility of sheltering their families from harm, caring for out-of-school children and, at the same time, continuing their work responsibilities. Without support from parents, children’s health, education and emotional well-being is at risk. By introducing family-friendly workplace policies and practices, companies and organizations will be in a better position to promote children’s safety and wellbeing and provide systematic support to employees.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues its exponential growth, a technical note from UNICEF, ILO and UN Women on family-friendly policies and other good workplace practices in the context of COVID-19 shows that it is essential to support working families to minimize negative consequences for children.

 

Source: Text: un.org   Image: The Nonstop News

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

6th Sunday of Year C – 2022

Poverty, hunger, sadness, hatred from others – who would dare say that these will bring happiness?
Someone has dared to say so – Jesus did when speaking to the crowds eager to listen to him (Luke 6:17,20-26).

I wonder how they reacted, all those listening to him on that day…
As they walked back home, they must have been puzzled, wondering about such an unusual message.

I ask myself: ‘Nowadays, how many people are listening to these words, listening and being ready to accept the message given – such a challenging message!’…

Possessions and prestige, this is what people are looking for, not poverty and hunger.
Enjoying life and all the pleasures it can offer, this is what appeals to people, not suffering and sadness.

Of course, there is the promise – the promise of the kingdom of God, of future satisfaction and joy, a reward waiting in heaven.
But precisely, this is all to come… in the future.
This perspective has not much interest for people living in what has been qualified as a time of instant gratification!
Enjoying life now, not in what seems to many as a doubtful future.

We, each one of us, are faced with a choice, a challenge: accepting Jesus’ message and following him, or…
Or, following our own path, searching, and searching, never really finding what we are longing for…

In the 1st reading, the prophet Jeremiah says (Jeremiah 17:5-8):

“Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose hope is the Lord”.

Trust and hope: relying on someone who cannot disappoint our search – this is the option offered to us.
Instead of a constant search leading to… a dead end.

 

Note: Another reflection on a different theme is available in French at: https://image-i-nations.com/6e-dimanche-de-lannee-c-2022/

 

Source: Image: historyandthenews.wordpress

24th Sunday of Year B – 2021

The gospel texts are sometimes comforting and encouraging.
At other times, they are demanding and… more than a little challenging

The text for this Sunday (Mark 7:28-35) belongs to this challenging category!
We are told that:

“He (Jesus) began to teach them (the apostles) that the Son of Man must suffer many things… be rejected…
that he must be killed…”
 
The perspective of such a future for their Master is surely disheartening for the apostles.
No wonder that Peter, the leader among them, protests and even tries to have Jesus change direction!
I expect that some of us would have been inclined to do the same…

It is natural to try and avoid whatever is painful, whatever causes hurt and provokes fear and discouragement.
The problem is that our attempts are so often shortsighted.
To follow this course of action may end up by depriving us of something absolutely… wonderful.

The sentence printed above is still incomplete – following the words: “he must be killed…”
the text continues with: “and after three days rise again.”

So often, what happens in our lives is that:
we see only the negative,
we focus only on the possible hurt,
we envisage only what goes against our desires…

We fail to broaden our perspective to see what will follow the… ‘must’ –
to perceive all the great things that God has prepared for us.

Of course, to take up one’s cross –
a very personal, intimate, demanding denial of oneself –
this would be more than we can cope with…
if we were left to ourselves.
But we are NOT.

Christ is with us, he who has walked this way before us.
And what he has lived through is awaiting us also: “rise again.”
Rise to a life of unending happiness!

 

Note: Another reflection is available on a different theme in French at: https://image-i-nations.com/24e-dimanche-de-lannee-b-2021/

 

Source: Images: thirdhour.org   Bible.com

18th Sunday of Year B – 2021

In the 1st reading of today’s celebration (Ex.16:2-4,12-15), we meet people greatly annoyed and showing clearly their discontent.
They grumble about their situation and reproach their leader, Moses, for having taken them where they are.

Their attitude is quite surprising:
We would think they would rejoice at having been freed from slavery and all its misery.
But they now regret their previous situation where they could enjoy bread and meat.

And in a parallel text they will even lament:
also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic” (Numbers 11:5).

Fast forward to the 21st century, to ourselves… and our own regrets!
Regrets… We all have some and for different reasons…

            • Failure in a business venture due to laziness.
            • Cherished goals not pursued through a lack of perseverance.
            • Dreams abandoned without reflection.
            • Repeated broken relationships out of selfishness.
            • Missed opportunities in many areas of life.
                • Dissatisfaction with the present when the past was so much better, it seems…

The ever-present temptations lurk in the dark area of our hearts:
lamenting, complaining, grumbling against others, searching for a scapegoat to escape responsibility…
All these will certainly not bring us to the ‘promised land’ – the land of serenity and happiness.

God is ready to give us what we need to sustain us on the way.
As he did for the people of Israel, he will provide us with whatever will enable us to keep going on the way.
He, himself, assures us:

“Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.”

 The assurance of his presence should be enough to renew our confidence and restore our peace of mind.

 

Note: Another reflection is available on a different theme in French at: https://image-i-nations.com/18e-dimanche-de-lannee-b-2021/

 

Source: Image: Joanne Viola  

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

Feast of Mary, Mother of God, Year B – 2021

During this festive season of Christmas and the New Year, we exchange good wishes, all kinds of them.
Phone calls, Christmas cards, emails, messages on Messenger or Twitter
all the platforms are good If they serve our purpose:
that of sending to others our wishes for their health, happiness, success, and other good things in plenty.

But do we exchange blessings?
Some of you may be surprised at this question… Blessings?
But… what are they really?

Some would define them as gifts, opportunities, benefits, good luck perhaps…
Others would describe them as an intervention that will bring a sense of well-being, of contentment.
All this is true but…

If we pay attention to the 1st reading of today’s feast (Numbers 6:22-27),
we should admit that something is missing in the definitions above and that is… God’s touch!

Yes, a blessing is not only some pious wish, or words expressing the desire of good fortune for someone else.
A blessing is a call on God himself to intervene in favor of someone,
in other words: to give as only God can give!
 
A blessing is a gift from God himself.
The text says that God will be ‘gracious’ to the person blessed in his name,
and the ‘grace’ that God gives is… himself!

This is what he has done in Jesus, the new-born we see in Mary’s arms.

What else could we desire, or ask for, that would satisfy us truly?
This blessing enfolds all others!
And, the amazing thing is that God wants so much to give it to us that… he wants us to ask for it!

God BLESS YOU!

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

Source: Image: ibelieve.com   deseret.com

12th Sunday of Year A – 2020

In prayer, saints of all times have said all kinds of things to God – at times surprising things!
You wonder…
Think of St. Philip of Neri who, with his usual sense of humour, would tell God:
“Lord, beware of Philip, before the day is over he could have betrayed you!”
 
At times, what is said to God is very exacting, it is demanding indeed.
It is the case with what the prophet Jeremiah says in the 1st reading (Jer.20:10-13).
He tells God:

“To you I have committed my cause.”
 
In other words, he has entrusted to God whatever is of concern to him.
When we think about it, what is most of concern to us if not… ourselves!
Whatever touches us deeply, whatever involves our own selves, this is our ‘cause’.

Our thoughts, from moment to moment.
Our secret desires and most daring hopes.
Our hunger for success and recognition.
Our search for rewarding experiences.
Our eagerness to reach cherished goals.
Our striving for achievement and self-fulfilment.
Our longing for deep and lasting happiness.
Our craving for true love and companionship.
Our constant need of forgiveness…

All this is part of our very selves, it is all included when I pronounce the word ‘I’.

But there is also, we cannot forget or deny it, the more ‘shadowy’ part of us…

Our problems and difficulties.
Our bitter regrets and guilt feelings.
Our painful memories.
Our disappointements and misfortunes.
Our failings and failures.

And for each one of us , the list could go on, and on…
All this is part or who we are, part of what is called our ‘cause’.
Like a jigsaw puzzle with countless pieces that have all to fit together so as to offer a beautiful picture.

Dare we say to God, as Jeremiah did:

“To you I have committed my cause”?

If not, what is the alternative?…
Especially in this period of pandemic when so much is unknown, unsure, unpredictable…

 

Note: Another reflection is available on a different theme in French at: https://image-i-nations.com/12e-dimanche-de-lannee-a-2020/

 

Source: Images: Microsoft   istock