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Baptism of the Lord, Year C

During the Christmas season, we have been exchanging gifts of all kinds. Gifts – small ones and bigger ones, ordinary and more unusual, wrapped in colourful paper and ribbons.

Some of them have brought delight, others we may have politely shown pleasure at receiving them but… we may have found them useless – either too big or too small in size, or definitely not to our liking. On the other hand, some gifts which we especially liked may soon be damaged, we will be sorry to see them broken or lost.

During that period, we have also received gifts… from God! Did you not include them on your list of… ‘things’ received? Well, in fact… they are not of the ‘thing category’ but, when giving blessings and favours, God gives HIMSELF.

In the 2nd reading of today’s feast: the Baptism of our Lord, Paul reminds his friend Titus (Titus 3:4-7) that God has given us his own Spirit:

“the Holy Spirit which he has so generously poured over us through Jesus.” 

God’s Spirit is his own gift to us and it will never be taken away, disappear, or be damaged.

When writing to the first Christians of Rome, Paul assured them: “God never takes back his gifts.” (Rom.11:29)

So, we have a most precious gift, totally ours, fully answering our needs and hopes, for all of 2019 and… for ever!

Note: Another reflection is available on a different theme in French at: https://image-i-nations.com/?p=12952

 

Source: Image: sec-gobiemorgen-rmi.blogshpot.com

 

 

 

 

 

International Day of Charity – 5 September

The International Day of Charity was conceived as a Hungarian civil society initiative supported by the Hungarian Parliament and Government in 2011, to enhance visibility, organize special events, and in this way to increase solidarity, social responsibility and public support for charity.

September 5 was chosen in order to commemorate the anniversary of the passing away of Mother Teresa of Calcutta,[2] who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 « for work undertaken in the struggle to overcome poverty and distress, which also constitute a threat to peace. »

Source: Text: Wikipedia

In the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development adopted in September 2015, the United Nations recognizes that eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions, including extreme poverty, is the greatest global challenge and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development.

The Agenda also calls for a spirit of strengthened global solidarity, focused in particular on the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable. It also acknowledges the role of the diverse private sector, ranging from micro-enterprises to cooperatives to multinationals, and that of civil society organizations and philanthropic organizations in the implementation of the new Agenda.

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set forth in the Agenda can be grouped into six critical areas: people, planet, prosperity, peace, and partnership. They have the potential to transform our lives and our planet by providing the framework needed for philanthropic institutions to enable all people to contribute to the betterment of our world.

Source: Text: UN Image: nationaltoday.com

 

International Youth Day – 12 August

The theme for International Youth Day 2018 is Safe Spaces for Youth.

Youth need safe spaces where they can come together, engage in activities related to their diverse needs and interests, participate in decision making processes and freely express themselves. While there are many types of spaces, safe spaces ensure the dignity and safety of youth. 

Safe spaces such as civic spaces enable youth to engage in governance issues; public spaces afford youth the opportunity to participate in sports and other leisure activities in the community; digital spaces help youth interact virtually across borders with everyone; and well planned physical spaces can help accommodate the needs of diverse youth especially those vulnerable to marginalization or violence.

Ensuring that safe spaces are inclusive, youth from diverse backgrounds especially those from outside the local community, need to be assured of respect and self-worth. In humanitarian or conflict prone settings for example, youth may lack the space to fully express themselves without feeling uncomfortable or unwelcome. Similarly, without the existence of safe space, youth from different race/ethnicity, gender, religious affiliation or cultural background may feel intimidated to freely contribute to the community. When youth have safe spaces to engage, they can effectively contribute to development, including peace and social cohesion.

Source : Text : UNDESA Image : unhabitat.org

 

4th Sunday of Easter, Year B

The gospel of this Sunday (4th Sunday of Easter, Year B – Jn.10:11-18) is well known with its text on the Good Shepherd.
The words of Jesus are familiar and the picture they suggest to our minds is one similar to the picture here – a man concerned about his sheep and caring for his flock.

The example may not speak to our daily life in modern cities far away from a village in Palestine of old.
However, a book published by a well-known author expresses very well in a modern metaphor what the message of Jesus is about.
I speak of the book The Shepherd of Frederick Forsyth – not intended for spiritual reading but with rich spiritual overtones that can inspire us!

It is the story of a pilot going home for Christmas and, suddenly, his aircraft suffers a complete electrical failure en route. Lost in fog and with little fuel left, he fears the worse. Literally out of the blue and absolutely unexpected. he is met and led (or shepherded) by another pilot who has apparently been sent up to guide him and bring him to land safely.

You will say it is a clever plot from a no less clever author, and you are right.
But, strange to say – and is it really strange? – our own life can provide us with no less wonderful experiences.
We, too, can feel lost in the occasional fog of daily living and our energy may be low, depleted by the struggle to cope day after day…

To me, today’s gospel presents us someone, yes Someone, who is aware and who cares – aware of

  • who we are,
  • what we are faced with,
  • what we need.

Aware, indeed he is, and he cares – he cares enough to provide for our needs
and more abundantly than we could ever dream of!

A fairy tale? No!
An fascinating thriller? Not at all!
The on-going experience of someone (it can be you and me) who dares to believe, to trust,
and to say with the Psalmist:

“I am wandering like a lost sheep;
come and look for your servant..   (Ps.119:176)
 
Note: Another reflection is available in French on a different theme at: https://image-i-nations.com/4e-dimanche-de-paques-annee-b/

Source: Images: catholicteacherresources.com  pinterest.com
Book illustration: Wikipedia

International Day of Older Persons – 1 October

The theme of the International Day of Older Persons 2017 is:

“Stepping into the Future: Tapping the Talents, Contributions and Participation of Older Persons in Society.”

This year’s day is about enabling and expanding the contributions of older people in their families, communities and societies at large. It focuses on the pathways that support full and effective participation in old age, in accordance with old persons’ basic rights, needs and preferences.

This year’s theme underscores the link between tapping the talents and contributions of older persons and achieving the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing, which is currently undergoing its third review and appraisal process.

Between 2015 and 2030, the target date for the Sustainable Development Goals, the number of older persons worldwide is set to increase by 56 per cent — from 901 million to more than 1.4 billion. By 2030, the number of people aged 60 and above will exceed that of young people aged 15 to 24.

Stepping into the future with pledges that no one will be left behind, it is starkly evident that the need to tap into the often overlooked and under-appreciated contributions of older persons is not only essential to older persons’ well-being, but also imperative for sustainable development processes.

The 2017 theme will explore effective means of promoting and strengthening the participation of older persons in various aspects of social, cultural, economic and civic and political life.

Source: Texte: UN  Image: alwaysonhealthcare.com

23rd Sunday of Year A

We know and we believe that the word of God in Scripture tells us about him and his will for our lives.
His message comes to us, ‘clothed’ if I may say, in all kinds of ways reaching us as light and guidance, strength and comfort.

The prophets and the Psalms, the gospels texts and the epistles – all of them are meant for our instruction, says Paul (Rom.15:4).
But, personally, I must confess that I am rather partial to texts which offer us promises, yes, promises from God himself.

The last verses of today’s gospel (23rd Sunday, Year A – Mt.18:15-20) give us exactly that: a two-fold promise from Jesus himself.
Words that are powerful and, yes, really promising!
This is what he says:

« I tell you solemnly once again, if two of you on earth agree to ask anything at all,
it will be granted to you by my Father in heaven.
For where two or three meet in my name, I shall be there with them.”

Some will say: “Wonderful!”
Others will think: “It did not work out for me!” meaning that they asked, and asked, with relatives and friends, and they simply did not get what they were asking for…
And many would endorse this statement and the experience it describes.

Perhaps most of us have made this experience – that of praying with our whole heart, convinced that God hears our prayers but, in the end, what we were hoping for did not materialize.
Did our praying bring about anything? We wonder.
We think to ourselves: If it did, it was surely not what we had asked for.

Perhaps this is because we have yet to identify our real needs… which can be quite different from our wishes and…yes, our whims…
God, who knows us better than we know ourselves, knows also what is best for us, even if we find it very difficult to admit to that.

Today may be a good occasion to make some kind of inventory – the inventory of all that we have received from God recently and see if some of those blessings were not – in disguise – what we were most in need of at the time…

Source: Image: justice-and-peace.org.uk

International Angelman Day – 15 February

People with Angelman Sydrome have the same basic wants, needs, hopes and dreams as anyone else – a need to feel loved, valued and included, and to experience caring and understanding relationships with family, friends, peers, teachers and their community. An exceptional gift that those with Angelman syndrome usually offer, is affection, joy and unconditional love. All they ask for, is that others take the time to get to know them as an individual, and respect the challenges they face.

Angelman Syndrome (AS) is a neuro-genetic disorder of Chromosome 15 that results in intellectual and developmental delay. It affects about 1 in 20,000 people. Individuals with Angelman Syndrome may speak only a few words. Many have mobility issues and may be wheelchair users. Most suffer with seizures and all require life-long 24/7 care. People with Angelman Syndrome are known for their wonderful smiles & warm personalities. M

The condition is named Angelman Syndrome, after Dr Harry Angelman. In 1965, he was the first person to make an observational diagnosis of 3 children who displayed very similar characteristics.

Source: Text & Image: IAD