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21st Sunday of Year A – 2023

QUESTIONS: there are all kinds of them, they are countless.
There are short questions, easy; others are intricate, or vague.
Some are intriguing, others are disturbing, they make us feel uncomfortable.

People ask us questions, of course.
Life also asks questions of us, often difficult questions.
And even… God asks us questions!

This started long ago – we see it happening in the very beginning of the Bible where God asks Adam where he is hiding! (Genesis 3:9).
Throughout the books of the Bible, different people are confronted with this questioning from God.
The prophets are often the interpreters to their people of God’s questions.

Today’s gospel text shows us Jesus asking a very important question indeed (Matthew 16:13-20).
He asks his apostles:
“What about you? Who do you say I am?”

If we move from the first to the twenty-first century where we find ourselves and…
If we listen to this very question now addressed to us…
What will we answer?
Not repeating Peter’s answer, but giving our own very personal reply to Jesus…

Some people reading this text will think: ‘It all depends…’
Very true! It all depends what kind of relationship we are having with God.

For us, is God a distant deity, far above, or far away, who has little to do – we think – with our daily life and experience?
Do we know little about who he is, apart from acknowledging his greatness and power?
Or, do we perceive him – mysteriously, perhaps – as close and concerned about us, always ready to come to our help?

God’s questions are always meant to help us discern the way to a better life, a deeper freedom, a more meaningful existence.
And, we should be convinced that, with God, there are no bad answer, no reply that is wrong.
All our answers – even the most inadequate or incomplete – will be received by him who accepts us as we are!

But, of course, we have to listen to him to hear him speaking to us…
For his part, he will wait, and wait, for our answers…

 

Note: Another text is available on a different theme, in French, at: https://image-i-nations.com/21e-dimanche-de-lannee-a-2023/

 

Source: Image: Unsplash

11th Sunday of Year A – 2023

We ask one another many questions, questions about all kinds of things.
But it happens also that we ask questions of… ourselves.
This situation may arise especially when faced with situations which we find disturbing.

At such times, we may wonder:
“Is God unaware of what is happening to me?
Does God not mind how I am suffering just now?
Can God not do something about what I am troubled with?”

In fact, these questions are directed to… God himself!
At such times, it may be good to do what God tells Moses in today’s 1st reading (Exodus 19:2-6):

“The Lord called to Moses and said: “This is what you are to tell the people of Israel: 
‘You yourselves have seen what I did …
 and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself’.” 

God’s words invite us to look back – look back to how he, God, has dealt with us in the past.
To remember, to become aware again – or, perhaps for the first time – of what God has already done for us previously.
Could it not be that God has indeed carried us, pulled us out of difficult situations and, literally, brought us back to himself?

This looking back, this remembering, may not remove the present obstacle, or solve the actual problem.
But the perspective may change, the perception of what I am faced with may take on a completely different aspect.
And I may then feel better able to cope with what seemed overwhelming before…

It is worth a try!…
 

Note: Another text is available on a different theme, in French, at: https://image-i-nations.com/11e-dimanche-de-lannee-a-2023/

 

Source: Image: Depositphotos

 

De belles histoires… on ose à peine y croire…

Qui n’aime pas les histoires et les contes?
Les enfants les adorent, les adultes les inventent!
On aime tous entendre les mots magiques : « Il était une fois… »

 

« Il était une fois… »
Des contes de fée…
Des fables fantastiques…
Des récits d’aventure…

Il y a même des épisodes intitulés : « il était une fois… la vie. »
Et moi je dis : « Il était une fois… MA vie… avec… »

Ses secrets, ses succès, ses excès…
Ses questions, ses suggestions, ses tentations…
Ses ambitions, ses aspirations, ses dévotions…
Ses sentiments, ses pressentiments, ses assentiments…
Ses effrois, ses joies, ses émois…
Ses quêtes, ses requêtes, ses enquêtes…
Ses peurs, ses ardeurs, ses petits et grands bonheurs…
Ses attentes et ses ententes…
Ses déboires, ses espoirs, ses ‘Aurevoirs’…

Innocence… Patience… Silence…

Mon Dieu! Une vie humaine, est-ce tout cela?
Tout cela et… tellement plus encore!…

Se pourrait-il alors que chaque situation, chaque sensation, devienne à son tour le chapitre d’une histoire sainte où chaque moment façonne l’image de la personne que Dieu anticipe de voir paraître devant lui?…

Et… si ce n’était pas un conte ?!

 

Source: Image: Unsplash

                                  

Fête de l’Épiphanie, année A – 2023

Le récit des Mages d’Orient a de quoi susciter la curiosité, l’intérêt et, pour certains, la recherche.
Ces personnages ont, depuis des siècles, fasciné petits et grands.

On dit qu’ils étaient trois, mais il a été mentionné qu’un 4è les suivrait plus tard.
On a affirmé qu’ils étaient des rois, mais comment l’assurer.
On présume qu’ils venaient de pays aux cultures diverses, peut-être mais on ne l’a pas prouvé.

Une chose semble certaine: ils se sont mis en marche.
Ils ont décidé de se mettre en chemin –
en chemin vers une destination inconnue, un pays lointain, un endroit vaguement perçu.

Le texte de l’évangile de ce jour nous dit qu’ils avaient une question en tête (Matthieu 2:1-12):
« Où est le roi des Juifs qui vient de naître ? »
 

Se mettre en chemin, se diriger vers une destination – c’est là une expérience qui nous est bien familière.
Et avoir des questions à l’esprit, cela fait aussi partie de notre expérience.

Alors que je considère ces Sages qui se sont mis en route, je pense à nos cheminements.
Tout ce que représentent nos pérégrinations.
Et l’image soudain me vient à l’esprit… celle de la lettre S… 

J’y vois le chemin :         

Sinueux…       
Sombre…
Solitaire…
Sans issue…

 

 

Je me rappelle les:

Situations inquiétantes…
Souvenirs douloureux…
Secrets pénibles…
Soucis obsédants…

Mais je revois aussi tout ce que les longues marches sur le chemin m’ont appris et apporté:

Sagesse au quotidien…
Sécurité au fil des jours…
Sérénité malgré l’incertitude…
Sens de la vie…
Silence offrant la solution à un problème…
Soulagement à l’issue de l’épreuve surmontée…
Satisfaction d’avoir surmonté l’obstacle…

Tout cela grâce, oui, don gratuit de Celui que recherchait ces Sages de l’Orient: Dieu-avec-nous!

Que nos cheminements en cette nouvelle année nous fassent découvrir qu’Il marche avec nous sur la route Celui que les Mages ont trouvé …

 

Note: Une autre réflexion, sur un thème différent, est disponible en anglais à: https://image-i-nations.com/feast-of-the-epiphany-year-a-2023/

 

Source: Image: Country Life 

 

 

Feast of the Epiphany, Year A – 2023

Meeting someone on the road – a friend, a neighbour, a colleague – the questions often arise:
“Where are you coming from? Where are you going?”

The place a person has left from, and the place where he/she is going to.
The point of departure and the planned destination…
It seems obvious that being on the road implies this.

The gospel text of today leads us to meet some people who are precisely on the road (Matthew 2:1-12).

Magi – wise men coming from the East, we are told.
And they are going to a place they are not too sure about… some mysterious destination.
At one point on the way, they will stop to ask more about it saying:

“Where is the infant king of the Jews?”

This question would not be asked nowadays.
But THE question that should be asked is…
Where do I come from and… where am I going… in life?!

We may not be able to change anything to where we have been so far,
but we, definitely, can do something about where we are moving to…

A destination… some people call it ‘a goal’ which they pursue with all the energy they can muster.
Something they have fixed for themselves to reach, no matter the cost.
A few would say: “Something worth living for, something worth dying for…”

At the beginning of a new year, it is good to ask: ‘Do I have such a purpose in life?’
What if this were not a place but… a Person?…
No longer “The infant king of the Jews”, but the one who has revealed himself as “God-with-us”.

Because this is the one who is, not only our destination, but our faithful companion on the road…
The Magi could not yet know him as such, but we do!
Or… do we?…
  

Note: Another text is available on a different theme, in French at: https://image-i-nations.com/fete-de-lepiphanie-annee-a-2023/

  

Source: Images: Unsplash    Blendspace

 

 

21è dimanche de l’année C – 2022

Les questions et… les réponses – elles font partie de notre quotidien.
Elles nous rejoignent de bien des manières et dans les circonstances les plus diverses.
Où? Quand? Comment? Pourquoi?…
Elles surgissent de la curiosité peut-être, ou du désir d’apprendre.
Elles nous surprennent parfois et souvent nous interpellent.

Il est intéressant d’observer Jésus quand on lui pose une question.
On l’interroge parfois sur les traditions de son peuple.
Il se peut aussi qu’on le questionne sur son attitude dans telle ou telle situation.
Il arrive qu’on lui demande une information sur un sujet en particulier.
C’est le cas dans le texte de l’évangile d’aujourd’hui (Luc 13:22-30).

« Jésus traversait villes et villages en enseignant.
Quelqu’un lui demanda :
‘Seigneur, n’y a-t-il que peu de gens qui soient sauvés ?’ »

Une question d’importance… vous vous la posez peut-être vous-même?
Il s’agit de notre vie maintenant et… de l’autre vie – celle qui nous attend après la mort.
Être sauvé, n’est-ce pas ce que tous et toutes nous désirons?

J’imagine que les gens qui, ce jour-là, écoutaient l’enseignement de Jésus désiraient bien connaître la réponse qu’il allait donner à cette question.
Mais… selon son habitude, Jésus n’a pas répondu!
Ou plutôt, il a répondu… comme il le fait souvent:
par  une parabole, un récit, une autre question, ou un conseil…

C’est le cas du texte d’aujourd’hui qui est un rappel à ce qui est essentiel:
non pas le nombre des élus mais bien… si NOUS pourrons, nous, être de ce groupe !
Jésus nous en donne le secret – un secret assez mystérieux:

« Efforcez-vous d’entrer par la porte étroite. »

Mais il nous laisse le soin d’interpréter ses paroles.
À nous d’identifier – au fil des jours – ce que représente cette ‘porte étroite’…

Chacun, chacune doit personnaliser ses réactions, évaluer ses choix, assumer ses engagements…

Se garder de la facilité: ‘Ç’est assez bien comme ça…’
             alors qu’on pourrait faire bien mieux!
Se méfier du laisser-aller: ‘Tout l’monde le fait…’
          alors que la discipline serait de rigueur dans cette situation.
Vaincre l’apathie: ‘J’ai toujours fait ainsi, à quoi bon changer…’
            alors qu’un effort conduirait à une vie plus riche de sens.
Surmonter l’égoïsme: ‘J’me débrouille, que les autres en fassent autant’…
             alors qu’on pourrait donner un coup de main à quelqu’un dans le besoin.

Jésus ne répond pas aux questions mais…
les réponses que son Esprit nous suggère au plus secret de nous-mêmes sont la piste qu’il nous faut suivre pour « prendre place au festin dans le royaume de Dieu ».
 

Note: Une autre réflexion est offerte sur un thème différent en anglais à: https://image-i-nations.com/21st-sunday-of-year-c-2022/

 

Source: Image: Iris de la Bible

 

 

3rd Sunday of Easter, Year C – 2022

Reading the gospel texts, each one is inspired by them in his/her own way.
Any given text, at different moments, may open up new perspectives and offer new messages.

Today the long gospel text presents us with two different scenes (John 21:19-31).
In the second one, we see Jesus with Peter – a scene quite special indeed and rich in insights.
I read it again and… an unusual idea comes – the title I would give to this scene:
‘What God knows but… wants to be told again!’
 
Not once, not twice, but three times, Jesus asks a question from Peter.
A searching question, one that is very personal, and… evocative…
Every time Peter answers repeating the words:
“Lord, you know that I love you.”
 
The third time, Peter adds the words:
“Lord, you know everything…”
 
Peter is right: Jesus knows it but wants to hear it, he wants Peter to pronounce the words –
words that will remind him who has been weak, and betrayed Jesus, that he is still Jesus’ friend.

There are people who refuse to pray saying that God knows everything and does not need to be told of our needs.
They are convinced that God knows whatever situation we find ourselves in and does not need to be reminded of anything.

It is true but… perhaps WE need to realize what our situation is, what our needs are, and… what is the friendship that God offers us!
God who wants to share our life, in close proximity to us, from day to day…

It may be something that WE need to be reminded of!

 

Note: And another reflection, on a different theme, is available in French at: https://image-i-nations.com/3e-dimanche-de-paques-annee-c-2022/

 

Source: Image: Church of Jesus Christ

 

2nd Sunday of Year C – 2022

Questions are very much part of our daily conversation – questions of all kinds.
We ask them from friends and neighbors, family members and colleagues.

The scene of today’s gospel gives us an example of such questioning (John 2:1-11).
At Cana, Mary approaches her son to mention the situation that has arisen at the wedding feast they are both attending:
“They have no more wine.”
 
Jesus answers his mother with a question:
 “Woman, why do you involve me?”
 
Hearing the question, Mary may have remembered another question, one asked by her son long ago.
At that time, Jesus was only twelve years old but he had already voiced such searching words (Luke 2:41-49).

On both occasions, Mary remains silent before Jesus.
But this time she speaks, not to him, but to those who will take part in what her faith dares to ask for:
« Do whatever he tells you », she says.

On her request, it seems that Jesus has anticipated the time – he calls it his hour –
to show something of God’s presence and God’s intervention for people.

Because this is exactly what Jesus does:
he manifests, he makes clear, that God does come to our help in time of need.
And a wedding feast short of wine is as good a place as any for him to show that he cares for people!

But there are also the questions that God, in turn, may ask of us!
God’s questions may reach us in different situations…

  • A reading from a book may suddenly awaken something in us…
  • An email, or a letter, from a friend may challenge us in an unexpected way…
  • A phone call from a relative may remind us of something we had pushed away from our awareness…
  • The sight of a generous gesture from a stranger may be an invitation to the best in ourselves…
  • A comforting word overheard from a patient in the waiting room of a clinic may inspire us with something we did not expect…

All of these, and many more, can transform themselves into questions – questions from God.

At the beginning of a new year, it may be helpful to hear anew these questions that we may not have dared to listen to until now…
And to remember Mary’s words: « Do whatever he tells you. »

We may be quite surprised at the result!…

 

Note: Another reflection on a different theme is available in French at: https://image-i-nations.com/2e-dimanche-de-lannee-c-2022/

And in a video, also in French, Teresa Penafiel shares her own thoughts on this scene of the wedding at Cana: https://youtu.be/XRKyex5S_uw

 

 

Source: Image: LDS Scripture Teaching

3rd Sunday of Advent, Year C – 2021

Waiting – there is much of this in our lives, no doubt about it.
We wait for all kinds of things to happen and for different people to come.
We anticipate some events with joy and trepidation.
And we find it difficult to wait with patience for the arrival of certain people so eager are we to see them.

In the gospel of this Sunday (Luke 3:10-18), we see people coming to John the Baptist to be baptized.
And of them, the text says:

“The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts
if John might possibly be the Messiah”.
 
This description reveals some joyful anticipation, some eagerness for the coming of the one they call: ‘The Messiah’.

What about us… are we waiting for someone, truly waiting, eagerly expecting this Someone?
Are we wondering in our hearts… when he will be coming, under which form he will appear?…
Do we ask ourselves whether we will recognize him?…

Every year, in this period of Advent, we are invited anew to wait for the Lord.
We no longer wonder or ask ourselves questions –
it seems that we know well the One we are waiting for, and we can put a date on his arrival: Christmas day.

But… does this ‘historical’ coming not hide a more frequent coming of God in our lives?
Of God ‘dressed’ in a different clothing than the Child Jesus…
Of God, no longer lying in a manger, but knocking at our door for help…
Of God asking for food, work, justice, dignity – all that a human being has a right to…

God does not claim these for himself – we usually give him glory and praise and thanks, do we not? 
But he asks for, no, he demands respect, justice, help, for everyone of his children.
HE, TOO, IS… WAITING…

And our period of waiting should be an answer to HIS…

 

Note: Another text is available on a different theme, in French at: https://image-i-nations.com/3e-dimanche-de-lavent-annee-c-2021/

And in a short video, also in French, Ghislaine Deslières offers us another reflection on this 3rd Sunday of Advent, Year C, at: https://youtu.be/bEtz8IfMSOA

 

Source: Images: biblepic.com    VideoHive