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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

17th Sunday of Year B – 2021

The methodology of… God can be quite surprising and sometimes rather upsetting – we have all experienced it!
He has told us about this long ago through his prophet, Isaiah, when he said openly:

“My ways are not your ways” (Is.55:8).
But it seems that we do not get used to this easily…

This thought came to me as I read the gospel text of this Sunday (Jn.6:1-15).
A crowd has been listening to Jesus’ teaching for a long time and he does not want to send them back without giving them something to eat.

 So, he asks his apostle, Philip, where they could get food for all those people.
The text says:
 
He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do”.
A little frustrating for poor Philip, if he knew… he, too, has to learn God’s ways!

But then, Jesus provides the food and we are told that the people were given “as much as they wanted”.
I said Jesus provides but, in fact, a child has made this abundant feast possible with his contribution.

So, after all, God’s methodology is not one of refusal, or measured provision, but an abundance of gifts and blessings.
And, often through our own sharing with those around us!

How long do we still need to understand?…

 

Note: Another reflection is available on a different theme in French at: https://image-i-nations.com/17e-dimanche-de-lannee-b-2021/

 

Source: Images: Jesus Film Project

2è dimanche du Carême, année B – 2021

Il vous arrive peut-être, comme à moi, d’envier les apôtres de Jésus.
Ils avaient de la chance, il faut le dire.
Ils vivaient avec le Maître jour après jour et ils pouvaient écouter son enseignement sur toutes sortes de sujets.
Et, bien sûr, ils le voyaient opérer des miracles, des actions extraordinaires dont les gens s’émerveillaient.

Il arrivait, à certains moments à que les apôtres ne comprenaient pas ce que Jésus voulait dire ou pourquoi il agissait d’une certaine manière.
Mais, au moins, ils pouvaient voir et entendre et… poser des questions!
Pourtant, il semble qu’ils n’osaient pas toujours le faire.

Cela me paraît le cas dans le texte de l’évangile de ce dimanche (Mc.9:2-10).
Les deux dernières lignes ont retenu mon attention et suscité ma surprise.
 
« Ils (les apôtres) restèrent fermement attachés à cette parole,
tout en se demandant entre eux ce que voulait dire. »

Jésus a pris avec lui Pierre, Jacques et Jean, et ils se sont rendus sur une montagne pour prier.
C’est là que, soudain, Jésus est transfiguré devant eux – tout un événement.
L’étonnement, la stupeur, s’emparent des trois compagnons de Jésus, ils sont absolument ébahis.
L’évangile précise même :

« Pierre ne savait que dire, tant leur frayeur était grande. »
 
Quand cette vision bien spéciale se termine, Jésus enjoint à ses amis de n’en rien dire à personne
« avant que le Fils de l’homme soit ressuscité d’entre les morts. »
 
Ce commandement, car c’en est un, est bien mystérieux pour les apôtres.
Qu’est-ce que cela veut dire vraiment?
Ils ont vu, ils ont entendu, mais… ils ne comprennent pas… tout comme nous!
Pourtant… « Ils restèrent fermement attachés à cette parole. »
 
Et voilà où je me retrouve, ou plutôt… où je devrais me retrouver!
Faire confiance à Dieu même quand je n’y comprends rien de ses interventions.
De ses interventions ou… de son absence d’intervention.
Et, aussi… de sa méthode qui cause parfois chez moi aussi stupeur et frayeur.

Il est un Dieu si différent de ce que l’on croit que Dieu est… ou devrait être!
Il nous l’a dit depuis bien longtemps déjà :

« Vos pensées ne sont pas mes pensées

et mes voies ne sont pas vos voies, dit le Seigneur. » (Is.55:8)
 
Une leçon qui me laisse toujours en apprentissage.
Une attitude – la confiance absolue – que je dois toujours recommencer à faire mienne…
Et les occasions ne manquent pas… particulièrement en cette période de pandémie!

 

Note: Un blogue offre une réflexion sur la 1ère lecture où Dieu invite Abraham à compter les étoiles: https://image-i-nations.com/une-invitation-quon-ne-recoit-pas-tous-les-jours/

Et une autre réflexion sur un thème différent est disponible en anglais à: https://image-i-nations.com/2nd-sunday-of-lent-year-b-2021/

 

Source: Images: KnoWhys – Book of Mormon Central

4th Sunday of Lent, Year A – 2020

The question of the apostles to Jesus in today’s gospel (Jn.9:1-41)
reflects something of our own thinking at times:
Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
 
But long ago, God has told us:
My thoughts are not your thoughts.” (Is.55:8)
 
And he questions us:
Am I not pleased when sinners turn from their ways and live?” (Ezechiel 18:23)
 
We think: Sin means punishment.
God thinks: Sin means forgiveness in waiting.

We are so slow, so stubborn in refusing to accept God’s revelation of himself:
“The Lord is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and rich in love.” (Ps.145:8)
 
LENT may be the time, at long last, to recognize him for who he is,
for what he wants to be for us still in need of… being healed of OUR blindness…

Note: A video showing this scene is offered at: https://youtu.be/cWtb_kH2Lf0
And another reflection on a different theme is available in French at: https://image-i-nations.com/4e-dimanche-du-careme-annee-a-2020/

 
Source: Image: churchofmormon.org
 

 

 

3rd Sunday of Lent, Year B

‘This is foolish, this is nonsense, this is stupid’ – and there are other such attributes that are used to qualify something which we find unacceptable.

These expressions came to me when I read the text of the 2nd reading of this Sunday (3rd Sunday of Lent, Year B – 1 Cor.1:22-25).
Amazingly, the apostle Paul speaks of “the foolishness of God” – quite a daring expression which may scandalize some people!
And yet…

God’s ways are not our ways, we have been told long ago by the prophet Isaiah (Is.55:8).
And we must admit that, sometimes, his ways are somehow… unacceptable to us!
His wisdom does appear foolishness in our eyes, eyes with a short-sighted perspective.

Just a few verses before today’s text, Paul was writing the words of the picture here beside.
Yes, preaching a crucified Lord must have seemed pure foolishness to the people of old, as it is for many people nowadays.
Power, authority, control, influence, mastery, domination, are the ‘in-things’ – who wants to be weak, powerless, without authority and control?
And, sad to say, this is sometimes true in religious circles as well as secular ones…

Jesus had tried to have his apostles live this message of being – like him – servants, not masters (Jn.13:14).
He had said clearly that the last will be the first… a hard lesson if ever there was one (Mt.19:16).

To this day, many will say: ‘This is the world upside down’!
And what if… ‘the world upside down’ were… the kingdom of God in our midst?…

Note: Another reflection on a different theme is available in French at: https://image-i-nations.com/3e-dimanche-careme-annee-b/ 
Source: Image: Pinterest

2nd Sunday of Lent, Year B

In our conversation, some words have a special meaning, they can have an impact of their own.
Usually, such words do not leave a person indifferent.
When someone says: “Trust me!” the expression catches our attention and calls for a decision: to trust, or not, the person before us…

These words came to me as I read the 1st reading of this Sunday (2nd Sunday of Lent, Year B – Gn.22:1-2.9-13.15-18).
This is, in fact, the title I would give to this dramatised account of what is known as: ‘The sacrifice of Abraham’.
The story is indeed quite dramatic and, if we did not know the outcome for having heard or read it so often, we would judge it to be rich in suspense!

“Trust me!” Yes, this is what God did not say, but what he really asked of Abraham:
a deep, unconditional, total trust in him.
God’s request must have appeared to have no meaning, at least no meaning that Abraham could understand.
Had God not promised him an heir?
And now he was to give him up in a very cruel way.

Much later, through the prophet Isaiah, God was to tell us clearly:
“My ways are not your ways” (Is.55:8).
Something we are in constant need to learn anew.

Learning to trust God, to rely on him, to surrender to him,
no matter how deprived of meaning a situation seems to be.
Wanting to understand, trying by all means to make sense of events, is a very human attitude, and legitimate also.
But we must learn to… LET GO and LET GOD as a poster reminds us!…

And the outcome can be… absolutely amazing!

Images: artcommission.me

Note: A reflection on the 2nd reading of this Sunday is available in French at: https://image-i-nations.com/2e-dimanche-careme-annee-b/

21st Sunday of the Year, C

luke-13-blessed-is-he-baruch-haba-bshem-adonai-until-does-god-still-punish-sin-few-saved-narrow-gate-narrow-gate-way-door-21-638I heard someone say : ‘God does not know how to count’. In any case, his way of counting is not ours. The Psalmist had understood this when he wrote: “A thousand years in your sight are like a day” (Ps.90:4) . And through the prophet Isaiah, God had told us already: “My thoughts are not your thought, my ways not your ways” (Is.55:8).

So, today’s gospel text (21st Sunday of the Year, C – Lk.13:22-30) should not surprise us when we read: “There are those now last who will be first, and those now first who will be last”. What does it mean? Different interpretations are offered. Personally, I like to see there an invitation to take on… God’s way of… accounting! He does not keep tabs as we do, he does not appraise situations and judge people according to our criteria.

In today’s text, we see someone coming to ask Jesus: “Will there be only a few saved?” And, typically, Jesus does not answer that question. It seems that God is not interested in… statistics: the number of those saved? The number of those ‘lost’? The number of those… mid-way???

We live in an age where statistics are very important: we gauge performance in nano- seconds! We count and we compare, we judge and we adjudge! We scrutinise and we assess! For his part, Jesus has one guideline, not to call it an… injunction! He tells us: “Try your best…”

In other words: try to take on God’s ways – God’s ways of looking at life and people, God’s ways of ‘discriminating’ – the right kind of discrimination between what is good and… what is best! And then, for us there will be no ‘weeping and grinding of teeth’ in disappointment at being left out of the on-going feast of God’s COUNTLESS blessings!

Source: Image: www.slideshare.net