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Pope Francis visits Irak

Pope Francis arrives in Iraq as ‘penitent pilgrim’ begging for peace

Pope Francis arrived in Iraq March 5 for a three-day visit aimed at encouraging the nation’s historic but diminishing Christian community. ..

The pontiff made impassioned and repeated pleas that the country might avert further conflict.  « May the clash of arms be silenced! » exhorted Francis. « May their spread be curbed, here and everywhere! « May the voice of builders and peacemakers find a hearing! » said the pope. « The voice of the humble, the poor, the ordinary men and women who want to live, work and pray in peace.”

Source: Text (excerpts): Joshua J. McElwee March 5, 2021  Image: People.com

 

International day of Human Fraternity – 4 February 2021

With unanimous vote in the General Assembly, February 4 becomes the (first) International Day of Human Fraternity. 

  The United Nations General Assembly voted unanimously to designate February 4 — the anniversary of the signing of the “Document for Human Fraternity” by Pope Francis and Grand Imam Ahmad Al-Tayyeb — as the “International Day of Human Fraternity.” 

The General Assembly voted Tuesday and invited Member States and the United Nations system to include this celebration in their calendar beginning in 2021. 

Supported by Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Equatorial Guinea, Morocco, Burkina Faso and Venezuela, the U.N. resolution takes note of the meeting between Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed el-Tayeb, on February 4, 2019, in Abu Dhabi. 

The resolution also calls on all member states to “continue to work for a culture of peace in order to contribute to peace and sustainable development.” This includes, according to the document, the mobilization of “the efforts of the international community in favor of peace, tolerance, inclusion, understanding and solidarity.”

While introducing the resolution, representatives of the United Arab Emirates said it was a response to growing religious hatred amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.N. website said. The resolution says that the General Assembly reaffirms the purposes and principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in particular the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

Word of the Editor: The following video, from the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, speaks volumes… https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Mnof8dSFIoR-mU74W8SV-l0X2CohMm8B/view?usp=sharing

Source: Text: John Burger, Aleteia Image: vaticannews.va

 

33rd Sunday of Year A – 2020

The text of the 2nd reading of this Sunday could be addressed to us, and it is!
The words of Paul to the Thessalonians seem to take on a new meaning in this period of pandemic (1 Th.5:1-6).

“While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly.”

Unfortunately, there are still among us many people who refuse to acknowledge the danger of the virus that is threatening our health and our lives.
They like to believe that all the talk about the situation is only that: talk.
They pretend they are safe; they remain unaware that they might be the next victims…

Paul’s letter was not referring precisely to our own situation, it is true.
But it has a message that is valid for everyone of us.
I am not thinking especially of the Coronavirus, but of so many other threatening agents –
threatening our life as Christians…

  • the virus of selfishness where all decisions are in view of ‘me, myself, and I’…
  • the virus of pride looking down on so many people judged not as good as one pretends to be…
  • the virus of injustice where decisions are taken in view of what will achieve one’s goals…
  • the virus of resentment which feeds a desire for revenge…
  • the virus of indifference to important issues thinking only of what is gratifying for oneself…
  • the virus of chronic dissatisfaction with life while forgetting all the blessings received from God…

And you may add a few of your own findings…
They are life-threatening, they jeopardize the fullness of living that Jesus wants for us.

We need to wake up and not allow ourselves to be lulled into a false sense of security.
Strange how ‘old’ parables can have a very ‘modern’ meaning!
 

Note: Another reflection on a different theme in French can be found at: https://image-i-nations.com/33e-dimanche-de-lannee-a-2020/

 

Source: Image : Picuki.com

Feast of Mary, Mother of God, Year C

During this festive Season we have been exchanging good wishes of all kinds. We wish one another good health, happiness and peace, and many more good things. We sometimes summarize them in telling people that we want for them God’s blessings.

The first reading of today’s celebration (Nb.6:22-27) is, in fact, an extended blessing. The text tells us that God himself has chosen the words of it, so to speak.

One expression, repeated in the Psalm that follows (Ps.67:2-3,5,7-8), says:

“May God be gracious to you.”

The word ‘gracious’ evokes the picture of someone who is pleasant, kind, cordial, ready to help. Another definition comes to mind in the words: “filled with God’s grace”.

We are used to the language of religious faith and the expression ‘God’s grace’ is very familiar to us. Perhaps too familiar… we may no longer be aware of its deep meaning.

We may be in danger of seeing ‘grace’ as a ‘thing’, a gift from God, yes, but something different from himself.

In fact, it is the very essence of God, the very way God is for us, towards us… in us! God could not be otherwise!

God wants to ‘grace’ us, that is to share with us what he is so that we may become ever more as he is. This is the very meaning of the feast of Christmas that we have been celebrating.

One of the Fathers of the Church, saint Irenaeus, (c.120-200) said:

“God has become what we are, that He might bring us to be even what He is Himself. »

This is the extent of his graciousness!

 

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

 

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 Day against Nuclear Tests -29 August

The United Nations’ (UN) International Day against Nuclear Tests brings public awareness and education about the effects of global nuclear weapon tests. The day aims to end nuclear testing and to promote peace and security.

Background
The history of nuclear testing began on July 16, 1945, when an atomic bomb was used at a desert test site in Alamogordo, New Mexico, in the United States. More than 2000 nuclear tests were carried out worldwide between 1945 and 1996. Nuclear weapons tests are generally broken into different categories reflecting the test’s medium or location:

  • Atmospheric tests.
  • Underwater tests.
  • Underground tests.

Over the years, there have been calls to ban nuclear test to ensure the protection of people’s lives and the environment around them. The UN approved a draft resolution in late 2009 for an international day against nuclear tests to raise public awareness about the threats and dangers of nuclear weapons.  It was also hoped that UN’s member states would move towards the idea of nuclear disarmament.

The International Day against Nuclear Tests was declared to be annually held on August 29, which marks the closing of one of the world’s largest nuclear test sites (in Kazakhstan) in 1991. The day is devoted to enhancing public awareness and education about the effects of nuclear weapon test explosions or any other nuclear explosions. It also promotes the need for a nuclear weapon-free world. The day’s first official observance was marked for August 29, 2010.

Source: Text: timeanddate.com Image: Abolition 2000

World Humanitarian Day – 19 August

Every year, thousands of men and women the world over put their lives in danger working in Humanitarian causes all over the world. Working in the most poverty and illness stricken third world countries the world over, often in areas of great social violence, these dedicated heroes put their lives on the line, and sometimes lose them in the pursuit of their goals. World Humanitarian Day is when we remember these heroes and their sacrifices.

History of World Humanitarian Day
World Humanitarian Day was established by the United Nations General Assembly to commemorate the death of Sergio Vieira de Mello and 21 of his fellow humanitarians in a bombing of the Baghdad headquarters of the UN. Sergio had worked at great length attempted to pull together the Draft for the official designation of World Humanitarian Day.

Sergio was born in Brazil, and worked tirelessly over three decades to help those victims of armed conflict by easing their pain and making sure the world did not forget them. Awareness was a vital part of his campaign, trying to ensure that those in First World Countries and places of peace remembered that there was more to war than the deaths of combatants and conflicts between governments. These people struggle every day to survive against odds that were created in spite of their desire to just live in peace and safety.

World Humanitarian Day was officially established to recognize Sergio and the thousands like him who work every day to make the world a better place for the less fortunate, the underprivileged, and those living in places of war, starvation, and pestilence.

Source: Text: DAYSoftheYEAR Image: Askideas.com

20th Sunday of Year B

Going through the readings of this Sunday (20th Sunday of Year B),
I am surprised at the number of… recommendations… injunctions… commands…
we are given to take into consideration!
I note but a few and I find them… quite demanding…

“Leave your folly and you will live,
walk in the ways of perception.”     (1st reading: Proverbs 9:1-6)

“Proclaim with me the greatness of the Lord…
Listen to me, I will teach you the fear of the Lord…
Never yield to evil, practise good,
Seek peace, pursue it.”     (Response: Ps.34:23,10-15)

“Be careful about the sort of lives you lead…
Recognise what is the will of the Lord.
Be filled with the Spirit…
Sing the words and tunes of the psalms and hymns…”   (2nd reading: Eph.5:15-20)

I make a summary for myself and it comes to this simple formula:
“Recognise what is the will of the Lord.
Be filled with the Spirit…

Enough there for… a lifetime!

Note: Another reflection is available on a different theme in French at: https://image-i-nations.com/20e-dimanche-de-lannee-b/

Source: Images: seton.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

 

Nelson Mandela International Day – 18 July

Nelson Mandela International Day, also known as Mandela Day, is held on July 18 each year. The day remembers Mandela’s achievements in working towards conflict resolution, democracy, human rights, peace, and reconciliation.

Background
Nelson Mandela was born in Transkei, South Africa, on July 18, 1918. He is one of the most well-known anti-apartheid activists in South Africa. He was jailed in 1963 for leading the liberation movement against apartheid and for his stance on the human right to live in freedom.

Mandela’s prisoner number was 466 and the year was 1963 when he was imprisoned on Robben Island, off Cape Town in South Africa. The Robben Island prisoners were never referred to by their names, but rather by their numbers and year of imprisonment – hence 46664 was Nelson Mandela’s number. His release from prison in 1990 fed political debates in the country and contributed to South Africa’s transition towards a multi-racial democracy.

After his release, Nelson Mandela continued addressing racial issues in his country and supported reconciliation initiatives. His efforts resulted in him becoming elected as South Africa’s president in 1994. He remained in office as president until 1999. He also won the Nobel Peace Prize, together with another former South African president Frederik Willem de Klerk, in 1993. In 2007 Mandela formed the Elders, an independent group of global leaders who offer their influence and experience to support peace building, help address major human suffering causes and promote shared interests of humanity.

The first Mandela Day was launched in New York on July 18, 2009, but the UN’s resolution to declare the day occurred later that year. On November 10, 2009, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution declaring July 18 as “Nelson Mandela International Day”. The day marks Nelson Mandela’s contribution to peace through his active involvement in resolving conflicts, promoting human rights, international democracy and reconciliation, and in addressing racial issues.

Source : Text: www.timeanddate.com Image: Whatsaap Messages Status DP