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Feast of the Epiphany, Year C – 2022

At times, listening to some people talking, we may hear a person say:
“It’s all a question of planning”.
True, much in life depends on the plans we make to achieve our goals.

Strangely enough, this thought came to me as I reflected on the texts of this Feast of the Epiphany.
There are many plans mentioned in today’s gospel reading (Matthew 2:1-12).

We see three Magi, yes, Wise Men, planning for a long journey.
Their plan, in fact, is to find a new-born king – so they believe.
We meet a devious ruler, himself a king, having his own plans about a potential new-born rival.
Their quest having been rewarded, the three Wise Men make a new plan for the return journey.

But this summary has left out one more plan of the utmost importance: the plan of God!
While everyone speaks in terms of kingship, God speaks another language.
In the gospel text, we are told:

“You, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.”

A shepherd, this is the one who has come to us from God – God himself.
This is what God wants to be for us: someone who watches over us, someone who cares.
Long before his birth, the description of this shepherd had been made by the prophet Isaiah (40:11):

“He tends his flock like a shepherd:
he gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.”

Perhaps, at the beginning of this new year, this is something we need to learn:
to be shown the way,
to be led and…
to be carried when needs be!

 

Note: Another reflection is available on a different theme in French at: https://image-i-nations.com/fete-de-lepiphanie-annee-c-2022/

 

Source: Images: allinnet.info    Wikipedia

16th Sunday of Year B

The relationship between a shepherd and his flock is not something one is used to in our society.
A text that would describe this would belong to literature and…
one could venture to say that there is a touch of sentimentality about it!

The Bible offers us such a description and, in the 1st reading of this Sunday (16th Sunday of Year B – Jr.23:1-6)
through the prophet Jeremiah, God speaks movingly about how precious to him his flock is.
For us, people of the 21st century, what is meaningful is perhaps not the description but the evocation that such a text provides.
What comes to mind and what speaks to the heart is the care and concern involved in such a relationship.

Care and concern…

  • New-born and children need that.
  • Teen-agers do too, reluctantly of course!
  • The sick, the handicapped, the weak…
  • Those who experience distress and loneliness….
  • Those struggling with misfortune, failure, despair.

And… when all is said and done, do WE not ALL need a caring friend, or a concerned relative?
Someone who shows understanding and empathy when we need them most.
Someone who will take time and trouble to come to our help when we can no longer cope.

I wonder, yes, I do… how many people are aware that God himself offers us precisely that:
care and concern born of a compassion beyond words.
The very compassion we hear about in today’s gospel (Mk.6:30-34) as we read:

“When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them,
because they were like sheep without a shepherd.”

Note: Another reflection is available in French on a different theme at: https://image-i-nations.com/16e-dimanche-de-lannee-b/

Source: Images: amboa.ph   livelifelike.com

4th Sunday of Easter, Year B

The gospel of this Sunday (4th Sunday of Easter, Year B – Jn.10:11-18) is well known with its text on the Good Shepherd.
The words of Jesus are familiar and the picture they suggest to our minds is one similar to the picture here – a man concerned about his sheep and caring for his flock.

The example may not speak to our daily life in modern cities far away from a village in Palestine of old.
However, a book published by a well-known author expresses very well in a modern metaphor what the message of Jesus is about.
I speak of the book The Shepherd of Frederick Forsyth – not intended for spiritual reading but with rich spiritual overtones that can inspire us!

It is the story of a pilot going home for Christmas and, suddenly, his aircraft suffers a complete electrical failure en route. Lost in fog and with little fuel left, he fears the worse. Literally out of the blue and absolutely unexpected. he is met and led (or shepherded) by another pilot who has apparently been sent up to guide him and bring him to land safely.

You will say it is a clever plot from a no less clever author, and you are right.
But, strange to say – and is it really strange? – our own life can provide us with no less wonderful experiences.
We, too, can feel lost in the occasional fog of daily living and our energy may be low, depleted by the struggle to cope day after day…

To me, today’s gospel presents us someone, yes Someone, who is aware and who cares – aware of

  • who we are,
  • what we are faced with,
  • what we need.

Aware, indeed he is, and he cares – he cares enough to provide for our needs
and more abundantly than we could ever dream of!

A fairy tale? No!
An fascinating thriller? Not at all!
The on-going experience of someone (it can be you and me) who dares to believe, to trust,
and to say with the Psalmist:

“I am wandering like a lost sheep;
come and look for your servant..   (Ps.119:176)
 
Note: Another reflection is available in French on a different theme at: https://image-i-nations.com/4e-dimanche-de-paques-annee-b/

Source: Images: catholicteacherresources.com  pinterest.com
Book illustration: Wikipedia