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6th Sunday of Year B – 2024

The Bible offers all kinds of texts to our meditation.
These texts, from different authors and times, are presented in different literary styles.
Some are deep spiritual reflections, others give us more practical guidelines.

Today’s 2nd reading belongs to this last group of texts.
In his letter to the Corinthians, the apostle Paul outlines what their behavior should be
(1 Corinthians 10:31 – 11:1).

One verse has caught my attention:

“I try to be helpful to everyone at all times,
not anxious for my own advantage
but for the advantage of everybody else”.   (Bible of Jerusalem translation)

Quite an inspiring way of life, very demanding indeed, but essentially Christian.
Just imagine for a moment what daily life would be if every believer lived in this way!
No more envy, injustice, anger, vengeance…
No more attempts to outdo others, deceive them, cheat or steal.
No more conflicts of any kind…

A society where the rights of everyone are respected.
A group of people where each makes the contribution that he/she can to the needs of others.
Among them, there is sharing and mutual help, truth and justice prevail.

Reading these lines, you may say that… I am dreaming!
I suppose that I am… dreaming as Jesus taught (Matthew 5:3-12) –
the kind of dream that makes the ‘dreamers’… “blessed and happy”!

 

Note: Another text is available on a different theme, in French, at: https://image-i-nations.com/6e-dimanche-de-lannee-b-2024/

Source: Image: Uplifting Scripture

 

 

 

 

 

7th Sunday of Year C – 2022

Reading the texts of the Bible can stir up our imagination, or our memory… or both!
The 1st reading of this 7th Sunday brought to my mind, as an echo, a saying that people sometimes use.
People whose interpretation of truth and honesty is rather… stretching to the point of falsehood and dishonesty…

You can hear them say:
“Not seen,
Not caught,
Not guilty.”

What we see in the text of the 1st book of Samuel is exactly the opposite (1 Samuel 26:2,7-9,12-13,22-23).
Saul is searching for David because he has planned to kill him.
When, at nighttime, Saul is sleeping, David could easily take the life of his persecutor.

He has the occasion,
He has the power,
He has the means.

The text says:
“No one saw,
No one knew about it,
No one woke up.”

But David spares the life of the one he recognizes as “the Lord’s anointed.”
 
David was aware that, in fact, someone saw and someone knew: God himself!
David was living his life in faithfulness to this God.
A God whose gaze is perhaps demanding and challenging but also supportive and sustaining.

Would this be… YOUR God?
 

Note: Another reflection on a different theme is available in French at: https://image-i-nations.com/7e-dimanche-de-lannee-c-2022/

 

Source: Image: pinterest.com

Feast of the Holy Trinity, Year A – 2020

 

 

 

 

 

There is an activity that some of us enjoy doing from time to time.
It is that of clearing out things –
we look at them, sort them out, discard some, and push others into another place.
We may get busy with that in the house, the garage, the garden shed, or simply an old cupboard.
It can be with items of clothing, utensils, tools, or the toys of the children.

But could we do the same with… our minds?
Would we be ready to do it also about…GOD?

Today’s feast of the Holy Trinity is perhaps the appropriate moment to do this:
Removing from our minds and hearts…
our false ideas, our incorrect concepts, our mistaken beliefs, about God –
all that is not according to what he, HIMSELF, says about who he is.

We hear him tell us in today’s 1st reading (Ex.34:4-6,8-9):

“The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious,
longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth.”

This is what he is, what he wants to be, for each one of us.
If we could only understand this… and delight in his mercy and graciousness!

 
Note: Another reflection is available on a different theme in French at: https://image-i-nations.com/fete-de-la-sainte-trinite-annee-a-2020/

 

Source: Images: Unsplash

 

 

27th Sunday of Year A

The gospel narratives give us many parables of Jesus.
All of them are inspiring, some are challenging, others rather disturbing.
I think that the one in this Sunday’s gospel (27th Sunday, Year A – Mt.21:33-43) must have appeared very shocking to Jesus’ listeners.
And it was!

For us, 21 centuries later, the meaning is obvious and the words leave no doubt as to what Jesus wanted to say.
But I believe that the scribes, the Pharisees and the leaders of the people who heard the words of Jesus also had a rather clear picture of what he meant.
It was aimed at them – at their obstinacy in refusing to recognize him as God’s messenger.
In the verse following the parable we are told: “The chief priests and the scribes realised he was speaking about them” (v.45).

From the start they had challenged him, they opposed him, and they tried to trap him in all kinds of ways.
They saw all too clearly how his miraculous powers had a great influence on the crowds of people coming to hear him from all over the country.
They noted how his compassion for those whom they themselves despised was bringing more and more people to him.
“The crowd looked on him as a prophet but they would have liked to arrest him” (v.46).
A hard text, directed at people precisely hardened in their thoughts and settled in their ways – thoughts of pride and arrogance and ways of contempt and rejection.

Has the story, well-known as it is, anything to tell us in this day and age?
We like to believe that we would never have followed the ways of the Pharisees.
We would never have adopted such a behaviour as theirs.

Yet, one can wonder: are self-conceit, obstinacy, scorn, disdain, bad faith, exclusion, rejection,
are all these absent from our own attitudes in this or that situation?…
One can only wonder . . . and . . . possibly face an unpleasant truth never acknowledged until now.

Source: Image: LDS

Ascension of the Lord, Year A

In the Bible, there are many texts which are truly beautiful.
They are inspiring, encouraging, consoling.
They give light, they provide strength, they bring healing.
They can lead to the truth, instill wisdom, and enrich our daily life in so many ways.

When I ask different people what their favourite verse is, they come up with different answers which express what, for them, is most important and helpful.

For me, one verse which I find especially meaningful is the last sentence of today’s gospel (Ascension, Year A – Mt.28:16-20):

I am with you always, yes, until the end of time. »

A clear affirmation.
More still: a promise, simple and straightforward.
No condition, no restriction.
No limitation, no reservation.

It is expressed in the present –a present that is continuous, on-going, permanent.
If only… we accept it with an unshakable conviction and allow it to be realised in our lives, day after day…

Source: Image: Pinterest

5th Sunday of Easter, Year A

There are some who say: “It is a pity we do not know enough the message of Jesus…”
I sometimes think to myself: “It is a pity we know too much the words of Jesus…”

This may sound surprising but I believe there is some truth in the second statement.
What I mean is that, so often, when the text of a given gospel is being read to us, from the start we may think:
“Oh, I know that story of Jesus…” and we switch to… other thoughts!

The text is so familiar that we think we know it… enough to pass on to something else which may be of more concern to us at the moment.

This reflection came to me as I read the text of this Sunday (5th Sunday of Easter, Year A – Jn.14:7-14).
Jesus says clearly: “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.
                                   No one can come to the Father except through me.”

After the first words, you could have completed the sentence yourself – you probably know the text very well.
But have the words not surprised you?
Have they not raised some questions in your mind?

Did you notice that Jesus did NOT say: “I know a way to reach God, I will show you the way to the Father.”
NO, he said: “I am THE Way.”

He did NOT say either: “I know the truth; I know all truth, I can teach you whatever is true.
NO, he said: “I am THE Truth.”

Again, he did not say: “I can give you life, life to the full, a life that will go on for ever.”
NO, he said: “I am THE Life.”
 
If you know from experience the feeling of being lost… of not knowing what is real and true in life… of not living really but only… well, existing, as some will admit – then, these words of Jesus will have a special meaning for you.

So, it seems obvious, does it not?
Following him we will have found THE Way, we will have discovered THE Truth, we will indeed be living THE Life he meant for us.

It is all a matter of following him… some do so at a distance, sometimes wandering far away for a while.
Others keep him in sight but follow their own paths…
And there are those who follow him closely, placing their steps in his own…
I would say: this is the meaning of being a disciple of his, would you not?

Source: Image: Dreamstime.com

 

 

 

4th Sunday of Lent, Year A

Strange things happen among us, people.
Something good can be done for someone and the person who benefits from the good deed is penalized for it!
 
It should not surprise us – this is what happened already in the time of Jesus.
We see it in today’s gospel on this 4th Sunday of Lent, Year A (Jn.9:1-41).

Jesus has cured a man who had been born blind and the religious leaders give this fortunate man – (or, unfortunate?) –
a hard time indeed.
Questions upon questions to him, to his parents, back to him again – evidently trying to find Jesus somehow guilty.
Unable to have the man say anything that would enable them to reach such a verdict, “They drove him away…”

They cannot SEE the good.
They cannot accept the evidence.
They push aside what is plain and clear.
They cannot face the truth.
They blind themselves in the most obvious way.

Why? Why such an attitude? What this kind of reaction?
But the next question is… Can this not be found in… us?
 
We may ‘drive away’ a memory… too painful to face.
We may ‘drive away’ a remark… unpleasant to acknowledge.
We may ‘drive away’ a warning… that would call for a decision.
We may ‘drive away’ a piece of advice… that would ask for a change of attitude.
We may ‘drive away’ some information… that invites me to do something.
So, we do as if the truth were not the truth!

We may fell afraid, ashamed, incompetent, powerful, not equal to a situation.
So, we hide, we pretend, we escape.
We literally ‘drive away’ what is plain to SEE but which threatens us.

LENT may be precisely that: the time to make special efforts to SEE.
And to pray for, yes, vision AND insight!

See also:  http://image-i-nations.com/the-man-born-blind/
Source: Image: request.org.uk
 
 

World Radio Day – 13 February

Message from Ms Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO on the occasion of the World Radio Day      

We are living a revolution in how we share and access information – and, yet, in the midst of deep change, radio has never been so dynamic, engaging and important.
This is UNESCO’s message on World Radio Day, 13 February 2017.

At a time of turbulence, radio provides an enduring platform to bring communities together. On the way to work, in our homes, offices and fields, in times of peace, conflict and emergencies, radio remains a crucial source of information and knowledge, spanning generations and cultures, inspiring us with the wealth of humanity’s diversity, and connecting us with the world. Radio gives voice to women and men everywhere. It listens to audiences and responds to needs. It is a force for human rights and dignity and a powerful enabler of solutions to the challenges all societies face.

This is why radio is important to taking forward the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Advancing fundamental freedoms and promoting public access to information is essential to bolstering good governance and the rule of law, to deepening inclusion and dialogue. In tackling new challenges, in responding to climate change, in countering discrimination, radio can provide an accessible and real-time medium to bridge divides and strengthen dialogue.

This requires a new commitment by all to radio. Broadcasters, regulators and audiences alike should nurture and make the most of its power. Listener clubs and forums are uniting communities around common issues with the power to hear themselves on the airwaves and to have others listen to them. Audience engagement policies are placing listeners at the heart of broadcasts. Media and information literacy has never been so vital, to build trust in information and knowledge at a time when notions of ‘truth’ have been challenged. This is how radio can provide a beacon for innovative solutions to local problems, and continue to advance human rights, gender equality, dialogue and peace.

On World Radio Day, UNESCO calls on everyone to nurture the power of radio to foster the conversations and the listening we need for cooperation to tackle the challenges all humanity faces.

Source: Text & Images: UNESCO

2nd Sunday of the Year, A

Being a witness can be a duty and it sometimes becomes an obligation that cannot be avoided.
It can be a pleasant task as it is to act as witnesses to the commitment of two people getting married.
It can be a painful experience to retell the details of an accident which one has witnessed.
And it can be very stressful to appear in court and, under oath, to say what one knows and sees as true.

In all these circumstances, a person is called to say clearly what he, or she, has seen, heard, and knows of a given situation.
In other words, the personal experience of the witness is what is required.

On this 2nd Sunday of the Year (A) the three scripture readings somehow refer to this aspect of human responsibility: witnessing.

Isaiah claims: “The Lord formed me in the womb to be his servant” (Is.49:3,5-6) and this service will be that of proclaiming God’s message to his people, speaking as a witness of what God has revealed to him.

In his turn, Paul affirms that he has been “appointed by God to be an apostle” (1 Cor.1:1-3), in other words he, too, will be asked to tell what he has experienced of the God of Jesus.

However, it is John the Baptist who speaks more clearly as he says of himself: “I have seen and I am the witness” (Jn.1:29-34).

Our times need witnesses no less than the past. It is easy to dismiss the fact that each Christian is called to be precisely that. Speaking for God, sharing Christ’s message, allowing the Spirit to lead me to speak when I should so that the truth may be known. The truth of who God is and what he calls us to be.

We need not be theologians, teachers, or specialists in explaining Bible texts. What is expected of us is simply letting our experience of God speak for itself… speak for Him!

Source: Images: wisconsinvows.com; 123RF.com;  www.diminishedvalue.com;  spiritualityhealth.com

 

2nd Sunday of Advent, A

pinterest-winnowingThe Bible speaks of God in so many ways. It describes his qualities and relates his actions. It also tells of his wishes for us, human beings. Often too, it speaks of his future interventions. All this in a language which is not abstract but quite vivid, one could almost say picturesque.

It is the case in today’s gospel (2nd Sunday of Advent, A) where we are told that the Lord is coming “with his winnowing fan in his hand” (Mt.3:1-12).

In our modern high-tech world we do not see much winnowing being done as it was in Jesus’ time. Such activity can still be observed in some areas of Africa or Asia but many of us would not have seen this otherwise than on television.

This does not mean that the message of the gospel text is no longer relevant. If we ask ourselves why winnowing is being done, the answer is clear: To separate the good grain from the straw or other unwanted material. This example speaks of sorting out, or getting rid of something to keep the good, the best.

Is Advent not a good period to do exactly this in our lives? We could look at it as a ‘Sorting out season’ – sorting out the different areas of our daily living: our opinions, our judgements, our values, our attitudes, our choices, our decisions, our plans, our habits, our expectations…

John the Baptist is calling people to ‘Repent…’ This involves a change, a ‘straightening up’ – the text says it clearly: “Prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight.” Perhaps the best way to do this is… to make straight our own paths!

To move away from our crooked ways, our distorted vision of life and people, our narrow-minded opinions, all that is us is a deviation from truth, justice, respect of others. Indeed, winnowing can still be part of a ‘modern’ life-style!

Source: Image: Pinterest