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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

14th Sunday of Year B

 An author of spiritual books (Gerard W. Hughes) has published one under the title: The God of surprises.
His reflections are pertinent and helpful.

After reading it, I was thinking to myself: ‘Were I to write a book of spiritual reflections,
I would give it the title: The God of… paradoxes’.
This is one aspect of God that I find fascinating and sometimes… more than a little disturbing!…

He is a God who has decided to… become a human being – He took on our flesh (Jn.1:14).
He who knows all things had to learn how to speak.
He who is all-powerful had to depend on a woman of our race to answer his needs as a child.
He who created the world and all it contains had nowhere to lay his head (Lc.9:58).

What triggered this reflection of mine is the text of the 2nd reading of this Sunday
(14th Sunday, Year B – 2 Cor.12:7-10) where God tells the apostle Paul:
“My power is made perfect in weakness.”
 
It is Paul who tells us again:
“The foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom,
and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.” (1 Cor.1:25)

This is the God who enabled Paul to say from experience:
“That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses…
For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
 
Paradoxes… but then, is Christian living not a life of paradoxes?

  • Hoping against hope (Rom.4:18).
  • Walking as if one saw the invisible (He.11.27).
  • Finding life in death (Jn.11:25).

The God of PARADOXES… my God… your God?   

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

Source : Images : Goodreads   covervault.com  YouTube

 

1st Sunday of Lent, Year A

  We are all familiar with the use of magnets. A mechanic finds very useful a screwdriver with a magnet to gather screws and bolts.
A seamstress also sees as very practical her scissors with a magnet to pick up pins scattered on the floor.
And many of us have those small magnetic items stuck on the door of the fridge as ‘Bear in mind’ message holders.

These items exert a strong pull on different objects and, as such, I find them an excellent example to illustrate what… temptation is!
For this is very much the theme of this 1st Sunday of Lent, Year A.

What is a temptation really?
We all know it… from experience!
It is a strong pull, a powerful urge awakening in us a desire.
It leads us to want, to want urgently, absolutely, something… someone…

The scene of Jesus’ temptations in today’s gospel (Mt.4:1-11) shows temptation emerging mostly in 3 areas – the areas of… the 3 Ps: Pride – Power – Pleasure.

And our own lives will provide occasions a-plenty, for temptation to manifest itself in the same 3 areas:

PRIDE: Too much arrogance – Not enough respect for others.
POWER: Too much domination – Not enough compassion.
PLEASURE: Too much selfish enjoyment – Not enough true joy shared with others.

Lent is a good period to look precisely at this: the too much and the not enough aspects of our lives and… to increase and to diminish the respective amounts according to the gospel message!

Source: Images:  www.dhgate.com;  Amazon.com;; AliExpress.com;  storiesnow.com

Christmas, Year A

Proverbs often have much wisdom encapsulated in a few words. They convey the popular wisdom which has much to tell us about life and situations.

At one time or another, you may have heard this saying: “There is more to it than meets the eye.” Looking at a situation, observing the attitude of someone, a friend or neighbour may have whispered these words: “There is more to it than meets the eye.” The person would have acknowledged that what he saw, what she noticed, was “not the whole story”, as they say.

These words are truly appropriate for what we are celebrating at Christmas – what we see, or… think we see! – as we look at a Nativity scene. The scene itself may be very ordinary or quite elaborate, it may show only the new-born child with his mother and father, or display as well the humble visitors and the royal guests that are part of the longer narrative.

Yes…

  • We look at a baby – We are to see God himself;
  • We look at poverty – We are to see the riches of God;
  • We look at weakness – We are to see the strength of God;
  • We look at helplessness – We are to see the power of God;

Indeed, we look at a simple situation: the birth of a child – We are to see the most extraordinary event in human history: God who has become a human being like us.

He has chosen the name he was to be called: “God-with-us” (Mt.1:23) – this is what He is, what He wants to be for each one of us. There is no situation – except that of our refusal – which can render this obsolete.

The gospel text (Lk.2:15-20) tells us, that having seen the new-born child, the shepherds “went back glorifying and praising God.” What more could we do?

Source: Image: Answers in Genesis          

                                                                                                                                                     

Ascension, C

www.pinterest.comWe repeat the words every time we recite the Creed : « He ascended to heaven…”  It is possible that our lips pronounce the words without our giving too much attention to what we speak. But this is what our celebration is about today. The 1st reading (Acts 1:1-11) tells us: “He (Christ) was lifted up while they looked on, and a cloud took him from their sight.”

We try to picture the small group of men, simple people, used to the tangible daily realities, witnessing this happening. We are told: “They were staring in the sky…” I believe I would have done the same! They must have thought: “What a POWER!”

Of course, during the past three years, they had seen Jesus’ power curing sick people, even raising some from the dead. They were in the boat when he had commanded to the wind, calmed the sea and the storm had abated, but THAT now… moving up into the sky, going through the clouds… that was absolutely astonishing!

Many years later, the apostle Paul (2nd reading: Eph.1:17-23) will express this in a language that no one could have used at the time:
“(God’s) power at work in Christ,
when he used it to raise him from the dead
and to make him sit at his right hand in heaven.”

Just before his Ascension Jesus had told his friends:
“I am sending down to you what the Father has promised (the Spirit).
Stay in the city then, until you are clothed with the power from on high.”  (Gospel Lk.24:46-53)

Paul adds that God has also used this power “for us believers.” You may be wondering… where… how… has God used his power for you, in your life?
Today’s feast may be a good occasion to find out… and to remain assured that he is still using this power for you, in you…

Source: Image: www.pinterest.com