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The Alphabet of Lent – Letter Z

Z pour Zacchaeus

He was small of stature but determined as no one else.
He knew what he wanted and… what he did not want!
He wanted to see the Man of Nazareth, and he did not want anything, or anyone, to prevent him from doing so!

He used a trick which served him well: he climbed a tree, a sycamore was there for his purpose.
He has seen, or rather… he has been seen!
He was seen, and he was challenged by the one he wanted to catch sight of.
From then on, his life was never the same again (Luke 19:1-10).

Many of you reading these lines recall the name of this original fellow.
Zacchaeus, yes, Zacchaeus, the man with a more than doubtful reputation in the eyes of many.
But, also, the man who has received what his visitor was offering him: salvation, nothing less!

His life of duplicity became an example of a life of honesty and generosity.
Welcoming Christ in our lives – non once only but permanently – can achieve such a transformation!

For each one of us, ‘salvation’ will take on a personalized form and will be realized from day to day.
This period of Lent, coming to an end, may have allowed us to discover this…


Note: In the following video Zachaeus, personified by Augustine Sellam, shares with us his experience of meeting the Man of Nazareth:


Source: Image:

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:
And another reflection on a different theme is available in French at:


Source: Image: Timothy Lutheran Bible Study

3rd Sunday of Easter, Year B – 2021

If asked about someone – whether we know the person or not – we may reply that we know of him, or her.
On the other hand, we may answer that we know him, or her – and there is a difference.
In the first instance, we may have heard about someone, or read some of his/her writings, or seen photos of them.
But we would not claim to know that person.

We are all aware that there are degrees of knowing.
We are conscious that claiming to know someone involves a relationship –
someone may be an acquaintance, a distant relative, or a close friend.

This reflection came to me as I read the gospel text of this 3rd Sunday of Easter (Lk.24:35-48).
Jesus appeared to the group of his apostles and…

“They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost.

The apostles knew Jesus – they had lived with him for three years, or so.
They could have claimed to know him… quite well.
Yet, they would have probably admitted that, very often, they did not understand him.
And, on that night, they simply failed to recognize him.

Their knowledge of him had to grow and somehow be transformed.
They knew him as Jesus, the former carpenter, or Jesus, the Man of Nazareth.
Now, they had to recognize in him more than that… they had to know him as the Risen Lord.
“Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.

I believe that such a growth must be part of my own relationship with God.
God may have been the God of my childhood, and the God of my youth.
He may have remained my God when I became an adult, but… did he remain the same?
And, if I have reached the ‘golden age’, is he still the same for me, as he was before?

Some may hasten to reply that, of course, God is the same, they will claim that God does not change.
This may be correct in some way.
But I have changed, and I believe that my understanding of God should somehow grow with me…

For me too, God must open my mind so that I may understand who he truly is… now…
And he may reveal himself in other ways – surprising and wonderful – as I walk with him from day to day.


Note: Another reflection on a different theme is available in French at:



Source: Images: Bearing the Cross – Altervista

3rd Sunday of Year B – 2021

The usual tasks, the ordinary occupations, the habitual duties – yes, the everyday routine.
Not very attractive, not especially inviting, and… not really inspiring…

Yet, inspiration can be found there – this is the message I discover in today’s gospel text (Mk.1:14-20).

The four fishermen who were to become the first apostles were not in the Temple.
They were not joining in a ritual celebration, or even offering alms for the priests.
They were simply busy with the daily chore of mending their nets and getting food for their family by fishing, as they were used to.

The inspiration comes precisely in the fact that it is there, in the usual and the ordinary, that Jesus meets us.
It is in these day-to-day tasks that he calls us to share in ‘his task’, that of doing the will of the Father.

We sometimes think of the special occasions and the unusual situations as meeting-places with God.
We may see our daily work as just too ordinary for God.

What about 30 years spent as a carpenter by the Man of Nazareth?
Was that not very ordinary and commonplace?

But, I am personally convinced that, to God nothing is too common.
Nothing is too low for him to join us where we are, precisely at what we are doing.

And then… things can take on such a different meaning.

Note: Another reflection on a different theme is available in French at:


Source: Image: Free Bible Images

2nd Sunday of Year B – 2021

The conversations we have among ourselves take on different aspects.
We can exchange information, relate events that have taken place or, on a lighter note, crack a joke!
Questions are also very much part of our daily interaction with people.
Questions of different kinds and about many topics.

In today’s gospel text (Jn.1:35-42), we witness some questioning addressed to the one known as the Man of Nazareth.
We see two men approaching Jesus and asking him a question –
a very simple question, one that we, ourselves, sometimes ask from people we meet:

“Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?” 
I pause and ask myself whether I ever asked Jesus this question…
I suppose that I presume that I know… I know that he is everywhere,
perhaps especially in heaven (whatever definition we may give to this term).
Some people may add that he is really present in the Eucharist, but… is this… all?

I suddenly recall that on the eve of his death, Jesus told his apostles:

“Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching.
My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.” (Jn.14:23)
Could it be that Jesus is staying much closer ‘home’ than we think?
Note: Another reflection on a different theme is available in French at:

Source: Image:

34th Sunday of Year C – 2019 : Feast of Christ the King

Some writer with a sense of humour gave today’s gospel a striking title:
“The good thief who stole… heaven!”

It is interesting to note that, on today’s feast – the celebration of Christ the King –
we are given this gospel text to reflect upon (Lk.23:35-43). 
It presents us with the picture of a king… crucified!
Not an inspiring sight in any way…

The leaders of the Jews sneer him.
The soldiers mock him.
One of the thieves taunts him.
And his followers are at a loss to make sense of what is happening.

Yet, it is to him, known as ‘the man of Nazareth’ that the thief – identified by tradition as Dismas –
addresses his prayer.
More of a desperate cry, this very short petition is all that was needed.
This man had recognized so much more than a king!

“Remember me…”
A cry of faith, words uttered in desperation or… the expression of amazing hope…
It remains valid and so very meaningful to this day:
“Remember me…”

This prayer could be ours, whatever our situation… no matter our desperation…

Note another reflection is available on a different theme in French at:


Source: Image:

32nd Sunday of Year B

Bible scholars and spiritual writers have much to say about Jesus in the gospel.
Their texts help us to see better the Man of Nazareth and who he was.
Their descriptions of his words and his ways lead us to understand better the kind of person he was.

There is one thing I do not recall having found and which strikes me in today’s gospel text
(32nd Sunday of Year B – Mk.12:41-44).
It is the way that Jesus noticed things – and people – while those around him seemed unconcerned.
Today, we are told:

“He (Jesus) sat down opposite the treasury and watched people putting money into the treasury…”
What did he noticed?
The rich and influent parading and putting in large sums to be admired?
The well-dressed and those in position of leadership bringing in their contribution in full view of all?
Jesus probably saw them – they meant to be seen –
but what he paid attention to was the offering of a poor widow.

This is one attribute, one attitude, of Jesus that I admire: 
he could notice people, each one individually.
Had he not raised his head to address Zacchaeus in his tree? (Lk.19:1-10)
Had he not asked who had touched him when, in fact, a crowd was pressing on him on all sides? (Mk.5:25-34)
And, of course, to Nathanael’s surprise, Jesus had noticed him under the fig tree. (Jn.1:48)

He looked, he noticed, he valued.
I like to believe that he is a man – a God – to whom we, each one of us, matter as individual persons.
One who notices small signs of attention to others, little gestures of kindness to people around us.
He notices, and he minds, he values what, to other people, might remained unseen and unsung.

But to God, there is no such thing!

Note: Another reflection is available on a different theme in French at:

Source: Image: LDS Daily