image-i-nations trésor

3rd Sunday of Advent, Year A – 2022-2023

Reading God’s message week after week, we are sometimes struck by an idea.
A short text perhaps, or even a single verse, can draw our attention and… we remain there.
It seems that we cannot keep on reading…
We are caught by something which has touched us in a special way.

This is the case, this Sunday, with the words of the prophet Isaiah telling us (Isaiah 35:1-6,10):

        “Courage! Do not be afraid.
        Look your God is coming…
        He is coming to save you.”
 
Salvation is a word with meaning of different kinds:

  • salvation from a painful situation, or a real threat,
  • salvation from a serious disease, or a loss of some kind,
  • salvation from an enemy, an attacker,
  • salvation from crippling feelings – helplessness, guilt, shame…

We often hear the word salvation in relation to our sins – the situation of being estranged from God.
We are aware that we need help…
Where will it come from?

Isaiah assures us that our God is coming.
God HIMSELF is the one who will rescue us from whatever threatens us.

Is this not amazing?
God has not sent an angel, he did not ask a great prophet, or another saintly personage, to save us.
He has chosen to come HIMSELF – in Jesus – to free us from whatever prevents us from:

  • being the people he wants us to be,
  • living in close friendship with him.

God HIMSELF… I keep repeating these words and I marvel at the reality they express…
I can count on him, I can rely on him, for whatever I need to be truly the person he had in mind when he created me.

So, no fear or anxiety, only peace and serenity…
A comforting message in this period of Advent…

 

Note: Another text is available on a different theme, in French at:  https://image-i-nations.com/3e-dimanche-de-lavent-annee-a-2022-2023/

 

Source: Image: Knowledge of Him

 

5th Sunday of Easter, Year B

At times, we may feel that we need some encouragement in our life as Christians.
We try to be faithful to God’s message.
We struggle to follow God’s way from day to day.
We strive for the kind of life we know he expects from us…
But, somehow, we feel we fall short of the ideal and we are perhaps tempted to get discouraged.

If so, the text of the 2nd reading of this Sunday (5th Sunday of Easter, Year B – 1 Jn.3:18-24) can give us some needed consolation.
In his first letter to the first Christians, the apostle John says:

“We… be able to quieten our conscience in his presence,
whatever accusations it may raise against us,
because God is greater than our conscience and he knows everything.”
 
In fact, John is repeating the message of Jesus – what he had said privately to Nicodemus:
“God sent his Son into the world not to condemn the world,
but so that through him the world might be saved.”   (Jn.3:17)

And what he had said openly to the Jews listening to him:
“I have not come to condemn the world but to save the world.” (Jn.12:47)

 We, human beings, can be strange people…
And so we are when we ‘create’ a vengeful and fearsome God intent on punishing us!

We make mistakes, we go astray, we may commit awful acts for which we are indeed guilty.
But what God wants from us is that we acknowledge our wrongdoing and our sin,
and that we return to him, the God of compassion and mercy.

That simple? Yes!
That wonderful, indeed!
And… absolutely TRUE!

Note: Another reflexion is available in French on a different theme at: https://image-i-nations.com/5e-dimanche-de-paques-annee-b/

Source: Images: CreatingGreatDay.com   Pinterest
 

Good Friday, Year B

“The crowds were appalled on seeing him –
so disfigured did he look that he seemed no longer human –
… without beauty, without majesty,
No looks to attract our eyes…
A man to make people screen their faces. »

This is what Isaiah tells us in the 1st reading of today celebration
(Good Friday, Year B: Is.52:13 – 53:12).
This is the picture we are presented with today:
Someone who no longer appears to be a human being
and who certainly does not appear… to be God.
Someone people prefer not to see, someone they choose to ignore, to move away from.

What if, for the word ‘people’, we substitute the words ‘we’, ‘us’?…
Isaiah did and this is what we read:
“We took no account of him…
We thought of him as someone punished, struck by God…”

No striking feature, except that of suffering.
No attractive trait, except that of suffering.
No appealing expression except that of suffering.
A veil covering the recognition of what appears before the onlookers, confronting them.

Yet, it is a misconception to think that Good Friday is the glorification of suffering.
Some well-intentioned preachers may say that Jesus suffered more than anyone else.
We are not asked to believe this.

The martyrs of the early Christian era,
the victims of Stalin of Russia,
of Hitler of Germany,
of Mao Tsé-Tung of China,
of Pol Pot of Cambodia,
of Idi Amin in Uganda,
and closer to us, of the so-called Islamic State torturers, to name but a few –

all of them have undergone unimaginable suffering.

Good Friday is not the glorification of suffering, it is the exaltation of love
the love of God made man,
though he no longer looked like either…
A love that made him to be “pierced through for our faults, crushed for our sins.”
Indeed, “through his wounds we are healed.”
 
This Friday is indeed good if it enables us to understand what, some time before this day of ultimate suffering, Jesus has revealed to Nicodemus:

“Yes, God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost, but may have eternal life.
For God sent his Son into the world not to condemn the world,
But so that through him the world might be saved.”   (Jn.3:16-17)

Note: Another reflection is available in French on a different theme at: https://image-i-nations.com/vendredi-saint-annee-b/

Source: Image: comforftinthemidstofchaos.com

31st Sunday of the Year, C

zacchaeusHe was well-known, yes, he had a reputation, but not one to be envied. He was despised by his people for being a publican. As such, he was collecting the taxes from his fellow-Jews to the benefit of the hated power of occupation – the Romans. He was clever and knew how to profit from his post. He was a wealthy man and enjoyed his situation. Such was Zacchaeus (Lk.19:1-10).

But his dignity suffered from… a limitation – he was a short man. Amazingly, this contributed to… his salvation. For he was curious to see the Man of Nazareth, that preacher named Jesus who walked through the towns and villages speaking about some ‘kingdom’ or other. People said he called it ‘the kingdom of heaven’. Zacchaeus had to see for himself. But there was a problem: often large crowds surrounded that man and Zacchaeus was short, he would hardly manage to get a glimpse from the Teacher from afar. That is not what he wanted. His cleverness served him well once again.

He climbed a sycamore tree and had a vantage point to watch the scene of Jesus walking down the road in the direction where he was, up above, there in the tree. Have you ever had the sensation of being literally lost in a crowd and suddenly hearing your own name mentioned? Of course, everybody around you will turn to see who is that person being called out. This is what happened that day to Zacchaeus. He probably thought he was well hidden from sight and that nobody would notice his presence. But someone did – the very person he was eager to know!

His surprise was greater still when he heard Jesus tell him: “Zacchaeus, come down. Hurry, because I must stay at your house today.” “The house of a sinner”, complained those who heard this. We all know the rest of the story and its message: “Today salvation has come to this house… for the Son of Man has come to seek out and save what was lost”.

And if we, too, were invited to climb down… not from a tree but from that place where we have been hiding? Our pride… Our fear of God… Our conviction that we can manage on own… Our thinking that we are too sinful to be forgiven… We might be as surprised as Zacchaeus was… and as surely saved as he was!

Source: Image: christianitymalaysia.com   

5th Sunday of Lent, C

The past… OUR past…
We can live in the past, with nostalgia…
We can cling to the past traditions and customs…
We can try to bury the past in forgetfulness…
We can try not to face the past because of it being too shameful or painful…

The 1st and the 2nd readings of this 5th Sunday of Lent (year C) speak about the past.
Through his prophet, Isaiah (Is.43:16-21), God tells us: “No need to recall the past, no need to think about what was done before. See I am doing a new deed.”

youtube 5th LentAnd Paul, writing to the Philippians (Ph.3:8-14), says about himself: “I forget the past and I strain ahead for what is yet to come.”

Why should we not cling to the past, or try avoiding it, or take refuge in it? Simply because God wants something new for us. And not only does he want it, but he makes it for us.

The gospel shows him doing exactly that (Jn.8:1-11). There, we meet a woman dragged before Jesus because of a past deed – shameful, sinful, yes. The Pharisees have brought her to the Master and their eyes accuse her as much as their words.freebibleimages.org

Jesus, for his part, does not even look at her. Not to shame her, he looks down to the ground and… writes in the sand! Then, it is to her accusers that he speaks. Soon, they have disappeared because they know well that from being the accusers they have become, silently, the accused…

Addressing the woman, Jesus does not say that what she did was not wrong but he helps her to go beyond the bad action. He helps her to forget the past and to look to the future. “Woman, has no one condemned you? Neither do I condemn you; go away and don’t sin any more.”Jesus forgets and forgives her past. This is how God is. God looks at our past to forgive it, if only we are sorry for what we have done. And he directs our eyes and our hearts to the future, to what he is preparing for us.

Today’s Psalm (Ps.126:1-2,3-6) says it beautifully: “When the Lord delivered (us), it seemed like a dream.”

Source: Images: youtube;      freebibleimages.org