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21st Sunday of Year B – 2021

Reading the gospel is not an exercise that always provides… comfort.
It certainly does at times, but at other times it can be rather upsetting.

It happens that Jesus questions us, and even confronts us, in a way that can be disturbing.
 This is what we see in today’s gospel text (Jn.6:60-69).
Jesus has been speaking of giving people his body as food.
People grumble about this and they say:

“This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”

To this, Jesus replies:
“Does this offend you?
 
Another translation uses a stronger expression saying:
Does this scandalize you?”
 
Does it happen that God’s words offend us?
Does it happen that God’s ways, scandalize us?

Perhaps this means that… God is God and that…
we need to recognize him as such.
Long ago, he told us through his prophet Isaiah (Is.55:8):

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.
 

Something we are in constant need to remember and…
something we need to adjust ourselves to… from day to day.

But through the words of another of his messengers, Jeremiah, (Jer.29:11)
God assures us:

“I know the plans I have for you,”
declares the Lord,
“plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future.

A hopeful future, this is what is offered to us!
And this plan gives a new perspective to God’s ways which may… offend us!

 

Note: Another reflection is available on a different theme in French at: https://image-i-nations.com/21e-dimanche-de-lannee-b-2021/

 

Source: Images: pixabay.com

13th Sunday of Year B – 2021

The woman we meet in today’s gospel (Mark 5:21-43) was affected with a disease considered shameful in her society – 
a condition that should be kept well hidden.
But well hidden also was the woman’s secret hope.

She had been hoping before, going from one doctor to another, spending all her money, and the disease never left her.
But this time, things could be different, she thought.
Now, her hope was strong and daring because of her faith in the Man of Nazareth.

She did not want to be seen, she did not want people in the crowd to know, but she was brave.
Her courage would bring her close to the Teacher.
She would find a way to come so close that she would be able to touch his garment.

She did and, immediately, her faith brought about what she had hoped for.
She was healed and she was praised, in front of everyone, by this Man who had cured her, freeing her from pain and shame.

Leaving for a moment this crowd of the time of Jesus, I look at the crowds of our time…

  • crowds at sports competitions of all kinds,
  • crowds at cultural events of all descriptions,
  • crowds at camping sites and beach resorts,
  • crowds in churches, yes, liturgical gatherings…

I ask myself: among all those people, are there some with this kind of deep faith and daring hope?…
And, closer to home… I look at myself… is there such a faith and hope in me?…

The very kind that obtains… miracles! 

 

Note: This gospel scene is presented in video format at: https://youtu.be/ZuxiEatESS0
and https://youtu.be/_K7rfk9mZ48
 
And another reflection on a different theme is available in French at: https://image-i-nations.com/13e-dimanche-de-lannee-b-2021/

 

Source: Image: Timothy Lutheran Bible Study

11th Sunday of Year B – 2021

As we read different texts from Scripture, we are sometimes amazed at how bold some statements are.
Obviously, the writers are people of faith and they express their belief with strength and conviction.

To me, the first line of today’s 2nd reading (2 Cor.5:6-10) is a perfect example of this.
In his second letter to the first Christians of Corinth, the apostle Paul tells them:

“We are always confident…”
 
As I look at my own life, I ask myself whether I could say this in all truth…
Confidence, trust, relying on someone with the certainty that the person will not let me down nor fail me:
this can be quite risky, if not naïve, unrealistic, and immature.

It could be all of these things if the someone were not… God himself.
But it is to him that we confide our life and our very being.

Paul stresses “always confident…” 

In small things as well as in important matters.
In ordinary situations and in unusual circumstances.
On good and bad days, in joy and in sorrow, in success and in failure –
ALWAYS, at all times.

To be absolutely certain that God is and will be there.
He will give me strength, courage, hope, for whatever situation I find myself in.
He will provide all that I am in need of, whatever that may be, today, tomorrow and… all the ‘tomorrows’ to come!
 

Note: Another reflection on a different theme is available in French at: https://image-i-nations.com/11e-dimanche-de-lannee-b-2021/

 

Source: Image: Woman’s Day

2nd Sunday of Lent, Year B – 2021

If I were asked to make a list of all the petitions I presented to God the past year,
I would be at a loss where to start.
I would find it impossible to remember all the things I asked from him.

He told us clearly: “Ask and it will be given to you.” (Mt.7:7)
I have no doubt that he means this but…
Somehow, I feel I may not always ask what he has in mind to give!

As he writes to the Christians of Rome, Paul tells them something rather astonishing.
The 2nd reading of this Sunday gives us his words (Rom.8:31-34):
 
“He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all –
how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” 
 
Paul is convinced that God is ready to give us “all things”.
It is an amazing statement, an amazing expression of faith!

To believe without a doubt that God will give us ALL…

  • all that we are in need of;
  • all that he knows is best for us;
  • all that will make of us the people he had in mind when he created us – all!

It IS an amazing expression of faith indeed… and I can only hope –
no, I can expect that it is included in the ‘all’ that He is willing to give me!
Provided… I ask for it, of course.

 

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

And a blog, in French also, reflects on the 1st reading where God invites Abraham to count the stars: https://image-i-nations.com/une-invitation-quon-ne-recoit-pas-tous-les-jours/

 

Source: Image: prayersandpetitions.org

28th Sunday of Year A – 2020

 It is quite surprising how often we can catch ourselves saying: ‘I hope that…’
‘I hope that this will happen…’
‘I hope that this situation will improve…’
‘I hope that my child will soon get better…’
‘I hope that my friend will get a promotion…’

Somehow, it seems that our days are filled with… wishful thinking, or is it… hope?
HOPE is something strong, enduring, it can see us through the worse and enable us to overcome.
Yes, overcome the problems and difficulties, the obstacles and worries that threaten us with despair.

HOPE is the conviction that the best is yet to come – not because we wish for it,
but because God will make it happen.

This is what has come to my mind as I read the 1st reading of this Sunday (Is.25:6-10).
The text describes a feast where abundance and delight are offered for our pure enjoyment.
And to add to this we are told, indeed we are promised:

“The Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces.”
 
What else could we wish for?

 

Note: Another reflection on a different theme in French can be found at: https://image-i-nations.com/28e-dimanche-de-lannee-a-2020/

 

Source: Image: aleteia

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

 

 

The Feast of the Ascension, Year C – 2019

In the people we relate to, there are many qualities we appreciate:
honesty, kindness, thoughtfulness, readiness to help.

But there is one which is especially precious: it is faithfulness.
This special attitude which guarantees that we can count on people.
They are reliable, they are there for us, so to speak.
Whenever we need them, they will not fail us.

And GOD IS FAITHFUL.
This is what the last line of the 2nd reading tells us today (He 9:24-28; 10:19-23). 
The author of the epistle to the Hebrews assures us:

“The one who made the promise is faithful.”
 
Short. Simple. Straightforward.
God will not fail us, he will not abandon us – no matter the situation we are faced with.
God is for us, he is with us at all times – unfailingly, unconditionally.

So, we are urged:
“Let us keep firm in the hope we profess.”
 
And, even this perseverance in hope will be given to us if only we ask for it!

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

Source: Image: OverviewBible

6th Sunday of Year C

It is said that our society is one where immediate gratification is the order of the day.
People want success, money, fame, NOW.
Satisfaction must be obtained without delay and preferably without too much effort.
One can’t wait to possess and to enjoy whatever will satisfy one’s desires.

In the 2nd reading today (1 Cor.15:12,16-19), Paul addresses the Corinthians and speaks a language that is very different.
He boldly says: If our hope in Christ has been for this life only, we are the most unfortunate of all people.”
 
Words quite strange to our modern ears. 
They are in sharp contrast with the popular attitude in fashion nowadays.
We are to take… the long view!
We must look beyond the here-and-now to envisage the hereafter…

The present situation may have much to offer yet it can never satisfy fully –
have we not made this experience time and again?
Our human DNA is programmed with the desire for always more, always better, always…

It would appear that Paul is right after all: HOPE is for what is yet to come!
And… the best it promises to be!

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

Source: Image: heartlight.org

 

4th Sunday of Year C

“Now we are seeing a dim reflection in a mirror ;
but then we shall be seeing face to face.” (1 Cor.13:12 – 2nd reading)

It is said and repeated.
It is claimed and proclaimed.
It is promised and published …

But, do we believe this?
It is so astonishing!

It is announced and assured…
It is taught and sung…
It is preached and explained…

But can we accept this?
It is so amazing!

We hear it.
We read it.
We say it…

But can we receive this?
It is so overwhelming!

One day, we will SEE GOD face à face.
This is what he meant from the beginning.
This is what we are meant for… one day!

For now: We… Believe – Accept – Receive… in hope!

Note: Another reflection is available on a different theme in French at: https://image-i-nations.com/4e-dimanche-de-lannee-c-2/

 
Source: Image: videoblocks.com

World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation – 1st September

Pope Francis has asked Catholics and others throughout the world to pray this day and until the Feast of St Francis on 4th October for the care of creation, in line with his recent encyclical Laudato Si.

According to a letter from the Pope announcing the annual World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, this time “offers to individual believers and to the community a precious opportunity to renew our personal participation in this vocation as custodians of creation, raising to God our thanks for the marvellous works that He has entrusted to our care, invoking his help for the protection of creation and his mercy for the sins committed against the world in which we live.” (Letter from the Vatican, 6th August 2015)

The Orthodox Church also honours 1st September as a Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, and Pope Francis notes his hope that this should become an annual occurrence so that it “will be a valuable opportunity to bear witness to our growing communion with our orthodox brothers. We live in a time where all Christians are faced with identical and important challenges and we must give common replies to these in order to appear more credible and effective.  Therefore it is my hope that this Day can involve, in some way, other Churches and ecclesial Communities and be celebrated in union with the initiatives that the World Council of Churches is promoting on this issue.” (ibid)

Source : Text : World Methodist Council  Image: nyfaithformation.org