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Nativity of the Lord, Year C – 2021

Someone telling a group of friends that he, or she, has received some good news would set their minds thinking.
Their curiosity would lead them to try and guess what this piece of good news can be…
A promotion? Winning the lotto? Going on holidays?
Perhaps the visit of a loved one? Or, maybe, expecting a child?
If after a few moments enjoying the friends’ guessing, the person said:

“God has come to us, yes, he’s come to our home,” –
the reaction of the group would probably be one of silent… amazement!
The friends would be utterly bewildered…
GOD, GOD has gone to his/her home!

If these words were said, not in a joking fashion but as a statement of deep faith,
it might be an incentive for the listeners to become aware that…
the same thing could be true for them, the same good news!

In fact, this is precisely the message of the gospel on the feast of the Nativity (Luke 2:1-14).
The angel appearing to the shepherds tells them:

“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy
that will be for all the people.”
 
Good news, great joy, and for everyone!

Those more discrete among us may not like to say openly:
“God has come to our home”,
and it may not be necessary to voice the words.

But what is necessary, what is essential, for Christmas to be truly Christmas is
to realize it deeply and…
to allow God to be at home with us!

 

Note: Another reflection is available on a different theme in French at: https://image-i-nations.com/nativite-du-seigneur-annee-c-2021/

 

Source: Image: verseoftheday.com

Feast of the Epiphany, Year B – 2021

The text of the gospel of the Feast of Epiphany is well known to us.
We could repeat with much detail the story of the Magi searching for the new-born king and their visit to him.

Yet, every year, there seems to be in the text something that speaks in a new way.
This year I stopped at the following words:

   “We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
 
 “After they had heard the king, they went on their way, the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 
When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.

A star appears and guides people on their way…
But these people want to be sure… so they go and consult a king – a king should know, they suppose…

Is it that they no longer see the star?
Has this mysterious sign in the sky disappear?
Or, is it that the travelers no longer trust the sign?
Or is it that they do not rely on the faith they had at first that the star is a reliable guide?

I see there, a pattern, a pattern often recurring in our daily lives.
At first, we trust a message received, a sign given to us –
it seems clear, yes, like a star.
But after a while it is no longer so clear, in fact, at times it seems to have vanished completely.
We doubt the sign, and often we doubt ourselves.

Or, is it that we do not recognize the one who gave the sign?
On this feast of Epiphany – the word means ‘manifestation’ – it could be an ideal occasion to…
contemplate anew the One who has come to us.

A contemplation that leads to the recognition of Him and…
of the signs he gives us on our way, from day to day.

Note: Another reflection on a different theme is available in French at: https://image-i-nations.com/fete-de-lepiphanie-annee-b-2021/

Source: Images: depositphotos.com   Art & Life Notes – WordPress.com   depositphotos.com  

13th Sunday of Year B

The world of cinema production and that of the theater allow us to witness human experiences that often depict our own personal emotions.
Watching a film, or seeing the actors evolve on the scene, can be powerful means of… introspection and self-knowledge.

For my part, I feel that the same can be said of… some texts of the gospel!
You are surprised at this statement?
Today’s gospel (13th Sunday of Year B – Mk.5:21-43) is a good example of this.
The woman we meet there – interrupting Jesus’ walk to Jairus’ house – is a fascinating study in human experience.

Suffering, shame, faith, hope, courage – you can find all of these in her.
For years, 12 years in fact, she has been spending her money going from one doctor to another in search of help.
But her condition, far from improving, has got worse.
She is at a loss as to what to do to find some relief.

The cause of her affliction is a source of shame and she does not want to reveal it.
She decides on a course of action all at once daring and discrete:
she will try to touch the hem of Jesus’ cloak.
Only that – she is convinced that it is enough.

And it is! For her touch is born out of FAITH in the power of Jesus to make her well.

Then, Jesus asks a question that his disciples judge pointless:
how can he ask who touched him when a crowd is surrounding him on all sides?
But Jesus wants something more than healing for the woman –
he wants everyone to know of her faith and courage.
That the source of her shame may become source of joy.
Her desolation may become exultation!

This is God’s way, God’s overwhelming compassion and true understanding of our human suffering.

Source : Images : aishamydaughter.org   cisphil.org  

Note: Another reflection on a different theme is available in English at: https://image-i-nations.com/13e-dimanche-de-lannee-b/

Feast of Pentecost, Year B

« Each one bewildered…
They were amazed and astonished… »  
 

This is what the 1st reading of this feast of Pentecost tells us (Acts 2:1-11)
about the Christians of the first century.
Fast forward to the 21st century, our own period of Christian living,
could not this text describe us as well?
Confused, amazed, astonished, wondering…

We must confess that we try

  • to have interesting ideas,
  • to share joyful messages,
  • to speak words of comfort.

We do our best to be serene and adopt a positive outlook on life.
We want to radiate good feelings and be generally… optimistic, do we not?

But we need to admit that… it does not work –
at least not always, not as often as we would want to.
It happens that we are simply… ‘not in the mood’, as we say.
Our spirits are low and we feel downcast.
We realize that we need a change – a change of… spirit.

Could it be that we need… the Spirit of God?!
In the 2nd reading (Gal.5:16-25) Paul writing to the Christians of Galatia tells them of the fruits of the Spirit:
“Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness, and self-control…”

Different from what we think, feel, see around?
Definitely!
But we cannot simply, take, grab, appropriate such attitudes –
we need to learn to… grow into them.
With some help? Of course!

But help is available, offered and freely given… if we only ask for it… yes, ASK FOR IT –
on Pentecost, and every day!

Source: Images: jw.org   memorizesciptureonthego.com

 

28th Sunday of Year A

On this Sunday (28th of Year A) we are given another of those parables well-known to us: the invitation to a wedding party (Mt.22:1-14).
Who would want to miss this? But, obviously, some people are not keen on the idea…
The gospel text says as much: “They were not interested…” (v.5)

Looking at the gospel narratives as a whole, I realize that many of the texts show us scenes of… INVITATIONS.
It is obvious for the first disciples, Andrew and John, who were told: “Come and see… (Jn.1:39).”
 
The invitation was addressed, in one form or another, to all the apostles.
Matthew, among others, was asked to leave his tax collector work and follow Jesus (Mt.9:9).
And all the others accepted as well to join the group of Jesus’ close followers.

Much later, Thomas was invited to a life of a faith which no longer admits of doubt: “Doubt no longer but believe” (Jn.21:27).

Nicodemus (Jn.3:1-16) was invited to be born anew…

The Samaritan woman (Jn.4:5-30) was invited (requested…) to give Jesus water so that, in turn, he may do the same for her, but giving water of a different kind.

The adulterous woman (Jn.8:1-11) was invited to a new life leaving behind her old ways: “Go away, and don’t sin anymore.”

The scribe asking the question (Lc.10:25-37) about his ‘neighbour’ was invited – more still, was told – to “do the same…”

In subtle, and not so subtle ways (as in today’s parable), the Pharisees too had been invited: “If I speak the truth, why do you not believe me?” (Jn.8:46). “Walk while you have the light or the dark will overtake you” (Jn.12:35). But they stubbornly refused any such invitation.

And Zachée (Lc.19:1-10) had his own special invitation: in fact, Jesus invited himself to his place asking him to be his host. Quite an invitation! 

And then, there was the rich young man (Lc.18:18-23) invited to follow Jesus, but his attitude resembled very much that of today’s invited guests of the parable… “He turned away sad…” 

Every one of them had a choice to make, a decision to take – this is what invitations are about!

Looking at my own life, I can notice as well a whole series of invitations from God – I could make a long list of them.
And I guess that you could make such a list for yourself.

Some of those requests from God, I accepted… sometimes reluctantly, sometimes wholeheartedly.
It happened that I debated with myself and I had to overcome my laziness, my indifference, my ‘busy-ness’ with so many other concerns…
At times, to my shame I must admit that… I was not very much interested… God had to convince me with ways that are uniquely his!

And, I find myself today, still on the way – on the way to readily welcome God’s interventions in my life, for this is what his invitations are.
Interventions of his to help me grow in readiness and willingness to welcome him in my day-to-day life and experiences.
This is THE way to taste the deep JOY of sharing in this exceptional feast he has prepared for me!

Source: Images: Pinterest, crosswalk.com

Pentecost, Year A

“The doors were closed (‘locked’, says another translation) in the room where the disciples were for fear of the Jews.”      

Have you ever been really afraid?
If so, you surely remember the experience!
In a threatening situation, it seems we can’t think straight!
We try to figure out the best course of action but it eludes us.
We may sweat profusely while debating whether fight or flight is the best option.

Fear can be a very powerful inhibiting element.
It can paralyze us in a strange way.
It can prevent us from doing or saying what we would want to do or say.

While the disciples were hiding behind closed doors, Jesus comes to them and we are told:
“The disciples were filled with joy when they saw the Lord.”
The situation is completely transformed: fear has given place to joy – the joy of feeling secure.
This security is given by the presence of the Lord now with them.

Then, Jesus breathing over them says: “Receive the Holy Spirit…” (Jn.20:22).

On today’s feast of Pentecost we, too, are meant to welcome God’s own Spirit. 
He is the one who will enable us to overcome our fears of all kinds.
He is the one who will free us from paralyzing anxieties and crippling worries.

The security and peace we long for, he is the one who can give them to us.
We need only ask, as Jesus has told us repeatedly in the texts of the Easter season.
Indeed, we need only ask… it is that simple!

Source: Image: Discerning Hearts

Christmas, C

CHRISTMAS, a time to rejoice and to celebrate. We somehow move a short distance away from our routine tasks and daily activities. We try to take time – time to reflect, time to look at things, situations, and people, in a different way. Strange, but it seems that those very things, situations and people that are part of our daily lives suddenly take on, is it a glow? Or a meaning? that was not there before… It is as if things around us now have a special quality, a special depth, drawing our attention, perhaps even our admiration.

NativityReflecting on this, I started looking at the texts of the Christmas liturgy. Different aspects struck me: the light, the simplicity, the newness, the peace, that a birth – THE birth – of this God-Child brought into our world. It happened long ago, but the effect is enduring, permanent!

Then, one short text came to my mind. It stood out, not of those beautiful Christmas readings, but it appeared suddenly from the often-repeated ritual of the daily Eucharistic celebration. The words are spoken by the priest when he addresses us, saying: « The Lord is with you. »

A new meaning dawned on me and I know that, when I hear these words during the Christmas celebration, I will be tempted to reply: « HE IS ! » « Yes, indeed, HE IS, ‘GOD-WITH-US’! »

This is in fact, the meaning of all that happens during this season, what people call « the reason for the season »! It is announced at the very beginning of the gospel of Luke and it is confirmed at the end of the gospel of Matthew by that Child who has become a man who promises: « Behold, I am with you until the end of time! » (Mt.28:20) This is Christmas for me…

Pic: www.rforh.com

3rd Sunday of Advent, C

You lobliss, happinessok at this picture, you read the text, you go from one layer to the other and you think to yourself: ‘Something is missing! Where is… JOY?’

Bliss can make us feel heavenly… for a while!
Delight provides a feeling of pleasure in something or someone.
Happiness is a more pervasive, deeper, state leading us to think that life is good and the world a good place to be.
Contentment makes us experience some kind of ease, of gratification, about the situation we find ourselves in.
Satisfaction provides a sensation that things are all right, it calls for some kind of suspension of effort for some time.

But what about JOY? It is very much the theme of this Sunday as we hear the words of the prophet Zephaniah (3:14-18) and the apostle Paul (Ph.4:4-7). Both tell us to « REJOICE », and they stress this message. Paul admits: « I repeat. » What they tell us is to « rejoice in the Lord. »

What does it mean? I wonder: ‘What is asked of me?’ Perhaps the answer lies in the reason why we should rejoice and it is mentioned clearly: « The Lord is near. » So, we are expected to rejoice because we have nothing to fear, the Lord is in our midst, and Zephaniah promises us: « He will renew you with his love. » Nothing less – is it not enough to be filled with joy?