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14th Sunday of Year B – 2024

Reading through the gospel texts, we find much to marvel at.
We see Jesus who goes from town to town, preaching, yes, but also curing all kinds of sick people.
Those afflicted with ailments and handicaps come to him to be made whole.
Jesus restores them to health.

Often, as he cured one or the other, he said to the person:
“Your faith has restored you to health”.
He said these words to the woman who was losing blood for many years (Matthew 9:22).

To the blind man of Jericho to whom he gave back his sight, Jesus said:
“Your faith has saved you” (Luke 18:42).

He said these same words to the grateful leper who returned to thank him for having cured him:
“Your faith has saved you” (Luke 17:19).

On this Sunday’s gospel text, we meet Jesus teaching in the synagogue, as he usually does on the Sabbat (Mark 6:1-6).
But we are told: “He could work no miracle there…”

What happened?
How is it that now Jesus can no longer help sick people?
Surely, his power has not suddenly disappeared!
What is preventing him from healing those in need of his intervention?

The answer comes at the end of the text:
“He was amazed at their lack of faith”.
It is astonishing, yet it seems obvious that God’s power can be limited by… our lack of faith!

There is an interesting scene where two blind men come to Jesus asking him to make them see.
Jesus asks them: “Do you believe I can do this?” (Matthew 9:27-31).
When the two men say that they do, Jesus replies:
“Your faith deserves it, so let this be done to you”.

So, we could say that a miracle depends on God’s power and… our own –
the power of our faith to enable God’s intervention.

Awesome power that is ours!
Awesome God we believe in!

 

Note: Another text is available on a different theme, in French, at: https://image-i-nations.com/14e-dimanche-de-lannee-b-2024/

 

Source: Image: https://www.daily-prayers.org/jesus-life-stories-2/jesus-teaches-in-the-synagogue-at-capernaum-2/

The Alphabet of Lent – Letter A

A for ABUNDANCE

This is what each one desires, to own things, yes, but more still: to possess in abundance.
We think immediately of money, material goods of all kinds.
But one imagines also: excellent health, much power, influence over many people.

To enjoy all that one can obtain and… without measure!
A little does not satisfy. Much? This is not enough yet!

One day, Jesus said clearly why he had come to live our planet Earth and share our existence.
He has declared:

“I have come that they (the sheep) may have life and have it to the full (in abundance) (John 10:10).

The sheep – one must read: human beings – we are the sheep!
And the abundance that he desires for us goes far beyond what we can imagine:
“Life to the full”, in abundance”.

At the beginning of this period of Lent, let our imagination – and our desire – be stretched…
And let our heart open itself to the abundance that God offers us!…

 

Source: Image: pexels.com (Michael Burrows)

 

 

Giving Tuesday – 29 November

Giving Tuesday is a Movement that Unleashes the Power of Radical Generosity Around the World.

Giving Tuesday reimagines a world built upon shared humanity and generosity.

Our global network collaborates year-round to inspire generosity around the world, with a common mission to build a world where generosity is part of everyday life.

Whether it’s making someone smile, helping a neighbor or stranger out, showing up for an issue or people we care about, or giving some of what we have to those who need our help, every act of generosity counts, and everyone has something to give.

Source: Text & Image (right): https://www.givingtuesday.org/about/     Image (left): Journée mondiale

International Day of Sport for Development and Peace – 6 April 2022

“Sport has the power to align our passion, energy and enthusiasm around a collective cause. And that is precisely when hope can be nurtured and trust can be regained. It is in our collective interest to harness the tremendous power of sport to help build a better and more sustainable future for all. »
– UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed

Securing a Sustainable and Peaceful Future for All: The Contribution of Sport

The International Day of Sport for Development and Peace (IDSDP), which takes place annually on 6 April, presents an opportunity to recognize the positive role sport and physical activity play in communities and in people’s lives across the globe.

Sport has the power to change the world; it is a fundamental right and a powerful tool to strengthen social ties and promote sustainable development and peace, as well as solidarity and respect for all.

In recognition of sport’s broad influence, the global theme of IDSDP 2022 is, “Securing a Sustainable and Peaceful Future for All: The Contribution of Sport,” which creates an opportunity for the Day’s celebrations to promote the use of sport as a tool to advance human rights and sustainable development. Under this theme, UN Headquarters in New York will recognize the role of sport in addressing the climate crisis and will highlight actions to lower greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate against climate change.

Sport is in a unique position to display leadership, to take responsibility for its carbon footprint, engage in a climate neutral journey, incentivize action beyond the sporting sector, and play a major role in amplifying awareness among its billions of spectators, facilitators and participants at all levels. With the need for urgent action growing more dire every day, the relationship between sport and climate must be better understood and ways of developing policies and taking concrete action to help reverse the impact of climate change through sport must be communicated to as wide an audience as possible.

Today, our world faces generational challenges, from poverty and hunger, to climate change to the COVID-19 pandemic. More than ever, we need to overcome our differences and unite as one team working together to tackle these obstacles and create a safer, more peaceful, and more sustainable future for all.

 

Source: Text: www.un.org/en/observances/sport-day   Image: Unesco

 

 

7th Sunday of Year C – 2022

Reading the texts of the Bible can stir up our imagination, or our memory… or both!
The 1st reading of this 7th Sunday brought to my mind, as an echo, a saying that people sometimes use.
People whose interpretation of truth and honesty is rather… stretching to the point of falsehood and dishonesty…

You can hear them say:
“Not seen,
Not caught,
Not guilty.”

What we see in the text of the 1st book of Samuel is exactly the opposite (1 Samuel 26:2,7-9,12-13,22-23).
Saul is searching for David because he has planned to kill him.
When, at nighttime, Saul is sleeping, David could easily take the life of his persecutor.

He has the occasion,
He has the power,
He has the means.

The text says:
“No one saw,
No one knew about it,
No one woke up.”

But David spares the life of the one he recognizes as “the Lord’s anointed.”
 
David was aware that, in fact, someone saw and someone knew: God himself!
David was living his life in faithfulness to this God.
A God whose gaze is perhaps demanding and challenging but also supportive and sustaining.

Would this be… YOUR God?
 

Note: Another reflection on a different theme is available in French at: https://image-i-nations.com/7e-dimanche-de-lannee-c-2022/

 

Source: Image: pinterest.com

29th Sunday of Year B – 2021

To render a service to someone, most of us would be ready to do so.
But, to put oneself at the service of others… this is another proposition altogether!
And this is precisely what the Lord asks of us!

The gospel text of this Sunday (Mark 10:35-45) is quite clear about it:

“Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 
and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.”
 
To be great, who would not want to be?
To be known as a person of importance, to be famous, to have power and influence over people –
this is what so many people are struggling for, even… fighting for!

Strange how people nowadays are so much like the apostles of Jesus, 21 centuries ago!
They wanted places of honor in the kingdom to come!

But becoming a servant, even a slave, who would choose such a way of life?
Perhaps the question should not be ‘who’ but ‘WHY’ should someone make such a choice?

The answer, again, is given by Jesus himself:
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, 

and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
 
The way of Christ, the way of a Christian…
Obviously, it is not a path easy to follow,
but it is definitely a path where we are sure that the Lord walks with us all along the way as it is… HIS way!

 

Note: Another reflection is available on a different theme in French at: https://image-i-nations.com/29e-dimanche-de-lannee-b-2021/

 

Source: Image: Prayers Room

14th Sunday of Year B – 2021

  Those who study the history of religions usually describe in detail their origin, the beliefs of different groups, their rituals, and the practices of their followers.

They present the attributes of the deity, or god, often referred to in the plural as there are many supernatural beings invoked.

 

One thing is of particular interest: the gods are shown as all-powerful trying to enforce their will on all.
They may even fight one another to impose their rule and obtain the allegiance of all the people concerned.

This came back to me as I read the 2nd reading of this Sunday (2 Cor.12:7-10) where Paul writes to the first Christians of Corinth.
He speaks of his own experience saying how he repeatedly pleaded with God to be freed from what he saw as a weakness in himself.

He then shares with the Corinthians God’s reply to him:
“My power is made perfect in weakness.”
 
An amazing statement, absolutely – it almost sounds… ‘ungodly’!
Our God does not want to overcome us with his power – he wants to draw us to himself in meekness.
The prophets and the psalms speak of kindness, gentleness, tenderness. (Psalm 103;  Jeremiah 31:3,9;  Hosea 11:3-4)

Ours is a humble God.
In Jesus, this is how he presents himself:
“I am gentle and humble in heart.”   (Matthew 11:29)

Can you believe it?!

 

Note: Another reflection is available on a different theme in French at: https://image-i-nations.com/14e-dimanche-de-lannee-b-2021/
 

Source: Images:   Egyptian gods: PhilArchive      Greek gods: education.toutcomment.com     Roman gods: vecteezy.com

3rd Sunday of Lent, Year A – 2020

The 1st reading on this 3rd Sunday of Lent (Year A – Exodus 17:3-7) presents us with a scene known to many of us.
The people of Israel complain that they have no water and accuse Moses of bringing them to a desert place.
He, in turn, complains to the Lord who tells him what to do to remedy the situation.
Moses strikes a rock and water gushes out abundantly.

We say: Fantastic! Wonderful!
We may add with religious admiration: ‘God answers the prayer of his servant!’
This is one aspect of the scene.

There is another, no less important if seldom mentioned.
Moses gives the location where this happened the names of:
Massah which means testing, and Meribah which means quarrelling.

These names are definitely foreign to us, but the reality they describe is most certainly familiar!
No one can doubt that, in our world today, there is much of this: testing and quarrelling.

What had led the Israelites to quarrel, to test Moses, and more still, to test God?
They were thirsty.
The 1st Sunday of Lent spoke about hunger, this one speaks of thirst – basic human needs indeed.

Our hunger and our thirst can take many forms –
bread and water are only representations of all that we long for:
health and wealth, power and prestige, freedom and domination – and so much more.

This ‘so much more’ hides ONE deeper need:
it is the one mentioned in the last verse of the text:
« The Israelites “tested the Lord saying,
‘Is the Lord among us or not?’ ”
 
This is the need for God’s presence with us.
It may remain hidden deeply within us, but it is there…
This period of Lent is welcome if it enables us to identify both, the need AND the presence!

Note: The scene of the gospel of the Samaritan at the well is presented in a video (in English) at: https://youtu.be/jU09NpjS27w
And another reflection on a different theme is available in French at: https://image-i-nations.com/3e-dimanche-du-careme-annee-a-2020/

 

Source: Image: Wikimedia Commons

 

 

 

 

5th Sunday of Year A – 2020

Language – of whatever nation or tribe – is made of words: short words, long words, simple words, difficult words.
They are uttered, spoken, whispered, proclaimed, sung or shouted – we cannot escape them.
They take on different shades of meaning according to the way they are used –
in joy or anger, in hope or desperation, inviting or rejecting, encouraging or despising.

Yes, words have a tremendous power, for good or… bad.
They can be uplifting or dispiriting.
But what a power they have when they are… God’s own words!
When they convey God’s message being inspired by God’s Spirit.

This is the meaning of the apostle Paul in the 2nd reading of this Sunday (5th Sunday, Year A).
He assures the Corinthians to whom he is writing that
the message he sends them is not something deriving from human insight,
but it comes from the Spirit of God himself (1 Cor.2:1-5).

He is not relying on the Jewish wisdom his master Gamaliel had passed on to him,
nor on the arguments of the Greek philosophy he is familiar with.
He says it clearly:

“Far from relying on any power of my own…
in my speeches and the sermons I gave
there (was) only a demonstration of the power of the Spirit.”
 
In our own attempts to speak about God,
we could do no better than rely on this same power!
 

Note: Another reflection is available on a different theme in French at: https://image-i-nations.com/5e-dimanche-de-lannee-a-2020/

 

Source: Image: www.areasonforhope.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

26th Sunday of Year B

I read and read again the 1st reading of this Sunday (26th Sunday of Year B – Nb.11:25-29)
and the first part of the gospel (Mk.9:38-43)
and… I try to read between the lines –
read the words and the meaning that is hidden there.

The two texts are similar and their message is equally so.
What is depicted there is, unfortunately, something still very much part of our landscape in this 21st century.

We see people trying to jealously keep some prerogatives.
People refusing that some good can be performed by ‘outsiders’.
People who try to prevent others to realize something positive as if it were their sole responsibility to do so.
People who want those in authority to side with them and support their attitude.

All this results in separation, segregation, exclusion, under the pretext:
those others are not from among us!
Power, pride, prejudice – all present there in a shameful display!

“If only the whole people of the Lord were prophets,
and the Lord gave his Spirit to them all!”
 
Moses, the wise leader, has the right answer as he replies to Joshua – an old saying which would serve us well.
If only… we lived according to it.

Note: Another reflection is available on a different theme in French at: https://image-i-nations.com/26e-dimanche-de-lannee-b/

Source: Image: Free Bible Images