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International Day of Human Fraternity – 4 February

Human fraternity for peace and cooperation

We need — perhaps more than ever before — to recognize the valuable contribution of people of all religions, or beliefs, to humanity and the contribution that dialogue among all religious groups can make towards an improved awareness and understanding of the common values shared by all humankind.

We also need to underline the importance of raising awareness about different cultures and religions, or beliefs, and the promotion of tolerance, which involves societal acceptance and respect for religious and cultural diversity, including with regard to religious expression. Education, in particular at school, should contribute in a meaningful way to promoting tolerance and the elimination of discrimination based on religion or belief.

Furthermore, we must acknowledge that  tolerance,  pluralistic  tradition,  mutual  respect  and  the diversity of religions and beliefs promote human fraternity. Thus, it is imperative that we encourage activities  aimed  at  promoting  interreligious  and  intercultural dialogue in  order to  enhance peace  and social  stability,  respect for  diversity and mutual respect and to create, at the global level, and also at the regional, national and local levels, an environment conducive to peace and mutual understanding.

Within that frame, the General-Assembly took note of  all  international,  regional,  national  and  local  initiatives,  as appropriate,  as  well as  efforts  by religious leaders, to promote interreligious and intercultural dialogue, and in this regard took note also of the meeting between Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmad al-Tayyib, on 4 February 2019 in Abu Dhabi, which resulted in the signing of the document entitled “Human fraternity for world peace and living together”.

 

Source: Text:  https://www.un.org/en/observances/human-fraternity    Image: vaticannews.va

World Kiswahili Language Day – 7 July

In the 1950s the United Nations established the Kiswahili language unit of United Nations Radio, and today Kiswahili is the only African language within the Directorate of the Global Communications at the United Nations. The United Nations General Assembly, through its resolution 71/328 of 11 September 2017, on multilingualism, welcomed implementation of a day dedicated to each of its official languages in order to inform and raise awareness of their history, culture and use, and encouraged the Secretary-General and institutions such as UNESCO to consider extending this important initiative to other non-official languages spoken throughout the world.

In that regard, the 41st session of the General Conference of UNESCO adopted resolution 41 C/61 that recognized the role the Kiswahili language plays in promoting cultural diversity, creating awareness and fostering dialogue among civilizations and noted the need to promote multilingualism as a core value of the United Nations and an essential factor in harmonious communication between peoples, which promotes unity in diversity and international understanding, tolerance and dialogue. The resolution proclaimed 7 July of each year as World Kiswahili Language Day. Kiswahili is the first African language to the recognized in such a manner by the UN.

 

Source: Text: https://www.unesco.org/en/kiswahili-language-day    Image: UN

World Human Spirit Day – 17 February

World Human Spirit Day is observed annually on February 17 as a day to encourage mindfulness through meditation; to get us to form the habit of constant reflection as a way to feel content in our pressure-filled society. According to Daniel Helminiak, it’s “a respected philosopher in the space of spirituality, the spirit is the mental function of awareness, insight, understanding, judgment, and other reasoning.” In Christianity, it is emphasized that the human spirit is the real person; the essential part of our existence.

HISTORY OF WORLD HUMAN SPIRIT DAY

World Human Spirit Day was started in 2003 by Michael Levy to serve as the day to promote a human spirit that lives a creative, peaceful, and loving life. The holiday is based on the belief that the human spirit represents a place of peace and tranquility that’s needed as an escape from our pressure-filled society. It aims to encourage mindfulness through meditation to get us to form the habit of constant reflection as a way to feel content in our society.

Throughout the modern era, the question of what the human spirit truly is and how it helps us escape our sometimes unfavorable world has been a question philosophers have tried to answer. The holiday is meant to serve as a recognition of the fact that what we know about our world is limited and superficial. It is a day everyone is encouraged to reflect on their achievements in the world as humans and stay content by contemplating the endless possibilities of even greater achievement as spirits.

The day seeks to help strengthen the connection to our spiritual self as a way to stay grounded even amid societal pressure. World Human Spirit Day is a day to search for contentment from within and to embrace the fact that we do not have all the answers. A day to give some higher power thanks for what we have and are yet to have. And, it is typically observed to promote the value of mental peace and satisfaction in our lives.

 

Source: Text: https://nationaltoday.com/world-human-spirit-day    Image: Unsplash

Global Day of Parents – 1st June 2022

Appreciate All Parents Throughout the World

Since the 1980s, the important role of the family has increasingly come to the attention of the international community. The General Assembly adopted a number of resolutions and proclaimed the International Year of the Family and the International Day of Families.

Emphasizing the critical role of parents in the rearing of children, the Global Day of Parents recognizes that the family has the primary responsibility for the nurturing and protection of children. For the full and harmonious development of their personality, children should grow up in a family environment and in an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding.

Designated by the General Assembly in 2012, Global Day of Parents provides an opportunity to appreciate all parents for their « selfless commitment to children and their lifelong sacrifice towards nurturing this relationship. »

Greater support needed for working parents as COVID-19 takes hold

Families bear the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic. As the anchors of the family and the foundation of our communities and societies, parents have the responsibility of sheltering their families from harm, caring for out-of-school children and, at the same time, continuing their work responsibilities. Without support from parents, children’s health, education and emotional well-being is at risk. By introducing family-friendly workplace policies and practices, companies and organizations will be in a better position to promote children’s safety and wellbeing and provide systematic support to employees.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues its exponential growth, a technical note from UNICEF, ILO and UN Women on family-friendly policies and other good workplace practices in the context of COVID-19 shows that it is essential to support working families to minimize negative consequences for children.

 

Source: Text: un.org   Image: The Nonstop News

1st Sunday of Advent, Year B – 2020

All kinds of things and situations can keep us awake.
For some people, caffeine will do this.
Other substances with some stimulant will do the same.

But anxiety, fear and worry, will have the same effect: prevent us from sleeping.
On the other hand, a phone call announcing some unexpected good news or the anticipation of a pleasant event will probably keep sleep away.

The gospel text of this 1st Sunday of Advent (Year B: Mark 13:33-37) is short
and yet we are told four times to keep awake, to stay awake!

Stay awake not to watch a good movie on the screen, or play a video game.
Not to work on the computer, or read a novel.
But then, to do what?

Stay awake to wait for the Lord.
For many people, these words evoke the end of the world, or perhaps the moment of death.
This understanding is correct but, to my mind, incomplete.

Personally, I am convinced that the Lord can come at any moment, in every situation –
Not necessarily at the end of time, or the end of our lives.

His coming is discreet, gentle… it come under the form of

  • a word of praise from a colleague
  • a new idea for a project
  • an additional supply of patience in a trying situation
  • some encouragement from a friend who sees I am at my wit’s end
  • an increase of strength when I just can’t go on
  • the sudden understanding of the puzzling reaction of a loved one…

His presence can become close and very real in whatever happens if only we are alert,
AWAKE to his being there with us.
If only…

The period of Advent starting today is a good time to do this from day to day.

Note: Another reflection on a different theme is available in French at: https://image-i-nations.com/1er-dimanche-de-lavent-annee-b-2020/

 

Source: Images: human life   AppleGate Recovery   Stockfreeimages   SoundCloud

Easter Sunday, Year A – 2020

What we see… what we do not see…
 
It is always like this in life, is it not?
We see certain things and we miss others.
We perceive certain realities while we cannot distinguish others.

The gospel text of this Easter Sunday made me realize this anew (Jn.20:1-9).
Peter and John come to the tomb where Jesus had been laid and…
they see the pieces of linen neatly folded and the cloth that had been around Jesus’ head also laid on the side.
But the person for whom these items had been used, they do not see.
 
Jesus’ body – this is what they were looking for – his body was not there.
The two apostles could not fathom that he, himself, could have been there.
They were looking for a corpse… they had to meet a living person!
They were looking for something, they were to encounter SOMEONE.

Their perception had to be transformed,
their vision had to be enlarged,
their understanding had to be deepened.

Is it not what EASTER is all about?
Seeing with eyes that go beyond appearances.
Perceiving with a mind that stretches beyond the obvious.
Understanding with a heart that is attuned to the depths of reality.

The Risen Lord can give all of this… from day to day…

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

 

Source: Image: Unsplash

 

 

 

 

 

Holy Thursday, Year A – 2020

From one extreme to the other…

Typical of Peter, is it not? He passes from one extreme to the other!  (Jean ch.13)
He does not want Jesus to wash his feet, but then… he wants that his face and hands be washed as well!

Jesus tells Peter:
“You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.

And when he has washed the feet of all the apostles,
“Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them.

For the apostles – and for us – what is required is to understand… the ‘extreme’ of God!
“Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.”
 
Real-ising, UNDERSTANDING…
Understanding a love that goes so much beyond human understanding –
So much greater, so much deeper, so much more personal, so much more compassionate.

SO MUCH . . . “to the end.”

Another reflection is available on a different theme in French at: https://image-i-nations.com/jeudi-saint-annee-a-2020/

 

Source: Image: Third Hour

 

Feast of the Holy Trinity, Year C – 2019  

Some people ask themselves questions about God.
In fact, many people would want to know more about him –
know more, more clearly, more deeply.
But could it be that they miss some important revelation about him?

Revelation: showing clearly, removing what is covering something, making known.
Yes, God has been revealed to us but… he remains GOD –
we will never have achieved knowing him fully…

In the 2nd reading of today’s feast – that of the Holy Trinity –
writing to the first Christians of Rome (Rom.5:1-5), saint Paul tells them:

“Through Jesus we have entered this state of grace…
The love of God (the Father) has been poured into our hearts
by the holy Spirit which has been given to us.”
 
It is as if Paul, in a nutshell, is giving us – as well as the Roman Christians of long ago –
the meaning of today’s feast.

We are “In a state of grace”, in other words: we are blessed, we are privileged, ‘graced’ by God.
Thanks to Jesus who made it known to us, we can be assured that God is our Father
a Father who loves us more than we will ever understand.
This certainty is given to us by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God himself.

Some theological texts will speak of ‘the mystery of the Holy Trinity’.
Sad to say, some people conclude: a mystery is something we cannot understand
so we cannot understand the Holy Trinity!

A more accurate definition of a mystery is that it is something we have never finished understanding…
And what if… this ‘mysterious’ REALITY were the meaning of our daily life?
Yes, even in its seemingly most insignificant details!…

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

 

Source: Image: etsy.com

 

 

2nd Sunday of Easter, Year C – 2019

Today’s gospel text (Jn.20:19-31) is rather discrete in terms of the apostles’ reaction to Jesus sudden appearance to them on Easter Sunday.
John simply tells us that “The disciples were filled with joy.”
 
In his telling of the same happening, Luke says that they were “in a state of alarm and fright as they thought they were seeing a ghost.” (Lk.24:37).
 
As I try to picture the scene and imagine what the apostles must have felt, the words that come to me to describe them are: surprised, astonished, amazed… utterly dumbfounded!
They knew that Jesus had been nailed on a cross (we can suppose that John who was present had given them some of the details…) and a soldier had pierced his side with a lance (Jn.19:26).
He had died, there was no doubt about this.

And now, suddenly, absolutely unexpected, there he is in front of them – ALIVE!
The word ‘surprise’ is hardly strong enough to mention what the apostles experienced at that moment.

Writing the word ‘surprise’, I recall a book published some years ago entitled: God of surprises (Gerard W. Hughes).
It may not be an attribute that is often given to God, but personally I believe it is very appropriate.

Looking at my life, what happened in the distant past and more recently, I can vouch for this truth:
God is indeed a surprising God!

  • Surprising in his amazing creativity,
  • surprising in his tremendous generosity,
  • surprising in his unfailing forgiveness,
  • surprising in his unfathomable understanding,
  • surprising in his permanent presence… in spite of sometimes having to wait for a welcome!

Surprising, absolutely!
Have you not noticed this for yourself?…

Note: Another reflection is available on a different theme in French at: https://image-i-nations.com/2e-dimanche-de-paques-annee-c-2019/
And a video (in English) is also offered where the second part of the gospel is presented: https://image-i-nations.com/thomas-the-apostle/

Source: Image: pinterest.com

3rd Sunday of Year C

There are many things we do out of habit – it is our custom to perform this or that action.
We are so used to behaving in a certain way that we do those things somehow without thinking much about it.

But there are other situations when it is not the case, we hesitate, we reflect before taking a course of action.
We ponder, we look at this and that other aspect of a gesture, a response, a decision.
If asked about it, we may reply that we need to understand what is involved.
We need to make sense of something.

This need to understand lies deep within us.
We search for meaning, we try to discover the sense of what something is about,
what WE are about, in fact.

This came to me as I read the 1st reading of this Sunday (Ne.8:2-6,8-10).
There we hear of the Jews gathered to listen to God’s message to them in the Law.
We are told:

“Ezra read from the Law of God, translating and giving the sense,
so that the people understood what was read.”
 
Receiving the understanding of the word of God – this is what we are meant to do. 
Not only listening, not solely hearing, not purely accepting as a matter of fact.
But understanding, deepening, making our own God’s message.

Nothing less will satisfy our need for making sense –
making sense of life, of our human existence, of… God himself!
God: what he is, what he wants to be for each one of us…

Note: Another reflection is available on a different theme in French at: https://image-i-nations.com/3e-dimanche-de-lannee-c-2/

Source: Image: Pixabay