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22nd Sunday of Year B – 2021

GOD… High above?… Far away?…
Unreachable?… Unconcerned?…
Some believe this… the opposite – the reality – is so extraordinary!

The leader of God’s people, Moses, assures them that God is very near to them whenever they pray to him.
In the text of today’s 1st reading (Dt.4:1-2,6-8), he states this as a fact:

“The Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him.”
 
This was more than 12 centuries before Jesus came to live among us.
I ask myself, are we today as convinced as Moses was that God is indeed near to us
whenever we turn to him in prayer?

I say ‘when WE turn to him’ –
we do not need to ask him to come near us, he is always with us, but…
Are we convinced of his nearness?
Are we sure that he listens to us and is concerned about us?
 
Whenever
no matter what situation we are in,
no matter what we feel like,
no matter how long we may have been away from him,
no matter how weak, sinful, desperate, we may judge ourselves to be…

Moses’ words are still valid to this day:
“The Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him.
 
And, if ever we feel we do not have the faith to trust these words…
He can give even that faith!

 

Note: Another reflection is available on a different theme in French at: https://image-i-nations.com/22e-dimanche-de-lannee-b-2021/

 

 

Source: Image: pinterest.com  

27th Sunday of Year A – 2020

At times, when reading a text from Scripture, you may stop short and ask yourself: ‘Is this really possible?’

The 2nd reading of this Sunday (Ph.4:6-9) could provoke such a reaction.
Writing to the Philippians, the apostle Paul tells them:       

“Do not be anxious about anything.”
 
The question cannot fail to come to our minds: ‘Is this really possible?’
God knows how many things make us worry and how many situations bring anxiety to us.
Problems and difficulties are sometimes too many, too heavy, and we experience insecurity and fear.
We feel that what we have to face is just too much for us.

Paul tells the first Christians what they should do to overcome their anxiety:
“In every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
 
THE problem might be that… we try to manage on our own… while God’s help is there at hand.
God’s strength, God’s comfort, God’s assistance, GOD is there… waiting that we turn to him –
turn to him with our requests for all that we are in need of.

The result of such relying on him can be astonishing.
Paul assures us:
 
“The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, 
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

It is worth trying…

 

Note: Another reflection on a different theme in French can be found at: https://image-i-nations.com/27e-dimanche-de-lannee-a-2020/

 

Source: Image: Inspirational Bible Verse Images – Knowing Jesus

19th Sunday of Year A – 2020

The people we live with from day to day, we claim to know them, of course.
Their ways of doing, their habits, their mannerisms.

It was the same for the apostles who were living with Jesus, travelling with him, listening to his teaching.
They knew his accent when he spoke to the crowds, they were familiar with his attitude to people.
They had observed him in all kinds of situations and learned how he reacted in different circumstances.
They knew him, at least… they thought so.

But that night on the lake when they were struggling against the storm, the mighty wind, and the waves threatening to sink their boat…
they were not so sure.
He was coming to them, walking on the water – but… this could not be him, it was a ghost, for sure.
He had to make himself known to them again, known in a new way –
a way that would bring them to recognize in him more than they had perceived up to now.
They could then say: “Truly, you are the Son of God.”  (Mt.14:22-33)
 

Knowing – Doubting – Recognizing.
Is this not the experience that is ours in so many ways and at different times in our lives?

We know God, at least we think so:
we have read about him and his message, we have been taught prayers and dogmas, we have learned much about him, yet…

It is a long pilgrimage, that of knowing God – not only knowing about him but knowing him, personally, truly.
Not an image of him, not stories about him, but the REAL God, as he wants to be known by us.
A life-long endeavour…

Note: Another reflection on a different theme in French can be found at: https://image-i-nations.com/19e-dimanche-de-lannee-a-2020/

Another presentation in blog format is offered on this theme in French at: https://image-i-nations.com/elle-le-connaissait/

 

Source: Image: The Heart Beat                    

 

 

 

16th Sunday of Year A – 2020

Praying – we know we should do it.
Of course, we would like to pray well, to pray as we should…
We have been told many things about praying.
We have read articles on prayer, we have heard sermons about prayer and…
Yes, we believe it is important to pray.

But, it seems we do not manage – manage to pray well, manage to pray as we should.
What should we say, how should we address God?
What does he expect us to say, and how?…

Long ago, reading an article about prayer I came across this definition:
“Prayer is wanting to want to be possessed by God.”
 
At times, it seems we find if hard even to want to pray…
But, wanting to want… this is already a beginning.

And the text of the 2nd reading of this Sunday (Romans 8:26-27)
tells us something most encouraging:

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.
We do not know what we ought to pray for,
but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.

This is THE answer for me!

 

Note: Another reflection on a different theme in French can be found at: https://image-i-nations.com/16e-dimanche-de-lannee-a-2020/

 

Source: Image: Heartlight                    

 

 

 

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: https://image-i-nations.com/34e-dimanche-de-lannee-c-2019-fete-du-christ-roi/

 

Source: Image: cccmurphysboro.wordpress.com

Feast of Pentecost, Year C – 2019

Week after week, Sunday after Sunday, we are given Scripture readings to ponder over.
Written in a language which is not the one of our daily conversations, it may happen that we do not grasp the full meaning of the texts.
It may also be that the truth they express is so wonderful that we wonder if we can rely on what we read or hear.
We may ask ourselves: “Are these words really meant for us as well as for the people of the past?”

The gospel of this feast of Pentecost (Jn.14:15-16,23-26) is one such texts that tell us something astonishing.
On the eve of his death, Jesus told his friends, the apostles:
 
« I shall ask the Father and he will give you another Advocate,
to be with you for ever, the Spirit of truth…
He will teach you everything and remind you of all I have said to you.”
 
I read these words, I repeat them to myself, and… I ask myself: 
‘Is it really true for me?
Am I convinced of this?
Do I rely on this amazing reality?’

The Father cannot fail to answer Jesus’ prayer – it is absolutely unthinkable.
On the other hand, we have been baptised and we have received the Holy Spirit.
He is with us, not for a time but “for ever”, Jesus assures us.

So, it means that we have… a private teacher, a very special tutor to help us understand and remember –
understand Jesus’ message and remember it as we live from day today.

What is missing then?
Perhaps only… the faith that it is so…
And the prayer, from the heart, asking to understand and to remember.

Note: Another reflection is available on a different theme in French at: https://image-i-nations.com/fete-de-la-pentecote-annee-c-2019/

 

Source: Image: www.stignatius.jp

 

World Day of Prayer, Reflection and Action Against Human Trafficking – 8 February

Time to end slavery

Pope Francis has declared the feast of St Josephine Bakhita, which is celebrated each year on 8th February to be the World Day of Prayer, Reflection and Action Against Human Trafficking.

St Josephine Bakhita is the patron saint of victims of slavery and of Sudan. Australians are being urged to work together, through grass roots action and corporate governance, to end slavery around the world. (…)

It is estimated that millions of women, girls, men and boys are trafficked annually into domestic servitude, sexual exploitation, pornography production, forced marriage and forced labour.

“These forms of exploitation flourish because of society’s greed for cheap goods and services and because it is easy to forget that those who meet these needs are human beings with their own innate God-given dignity,” the Bishop of Parramatta, Vincent Long Van Nguyen, wrote.
 

Source: Text: www.cathnews.com   Image: www.renate-europe.com

17th Sunday of Year B

Let us say that you go to borrow from your neighbour some cooking oil to cook a dish. Does it happen often that instead of giving you the small amount you ask for, the neighbour gives you a much larger quantity? Or, if a man goes to a colleague to borrow some special glue to repair something, does he expect to be given an extra tube on top of the one already started? This is rare among us people. We hope for help but not often do we meet with outstanding generosity.

I said it is like this “among us people”, but with God things are different. Today the 1st reading and the gospel are similar in giving us a good example of how generous God is with us. Through Elisha God says: “They will eat and have some left over.” And the same thing happened at the time of Jesus. We see Jesus concerned about people having nothing to eat.

He asks one of the apostles where to buy bread but he is testing Philip who replies: “Five loaves and two fishes, what is that between so many?” Jesus took them, said the blessing and “gave them out to all who were sitting ready, giving out as much as was wanted.” With this huge crowd, we would think it enough if each got a piece of bread. But God’s way is the generous way. They all ate as much as they wanted!

Look at God’s generosity in nature: we sow a few seeds and get bags of cereals. Look at the fruit trees heavily-laden with juicy and sweet fruits. God does not know how to count! God does not know how to measure. Or rather, he counts and he measures according to his love which is without measure. God gives and gives, always beyond our hopes and above our expectations. He gives us more health, more healing, more strength and more help. He blesses us with more joy and happiness, more success and good fortune. He grants us more peace and more security. All those good things we long for, he gives them “as much as is wanted.” 

As you read this, you may have doubts thinking of the prayers you made in the past and you say: ‘I asked God for that and he did not give me more of it, in fact he did not give it to me at all!’ This is possible, God does not give us always what we ask for. But have you found out what other gift – perhaps much greater – he gave you instead? A gift more precious than you could have dared to ask for. Think about it…

We heard in the gospel: “Jesus knew exactly what he was going to do.”He could have worked the miracle without asking for anything but he wanted to use the loaves and fishes from the small boy. God wants us to do our share, he wants us to work with him. At times, we ask God for this and that but we, ourselves, do nothing to make our desires come about. He is still ready to work miracles but he wants our efforts at pleasing him and turning to him in prayer. He needs that little something that comes from us.

Source: Image: Free Bible Images

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

A woman, a pagan…

She was a woman, a pagan woman,
looked down upon and despised by the Jews.
She was not put off nor discouraged by a silent or verbal refusal –
the Syrophoenician woman knew better than to give up asking!…

A reflection on this gospel can be found at: 

http://image-i-nations.com/20th-sunday-of-year-a/