Showing posts with label Iraq. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Iraq. Show all posts

8 Sep 2017

'Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.' Sunday Reflections, 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A


Prayer before a Meal, Adriaen Jansz van Ostade[Web Gallery

For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them (Matthew 18:20).
Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)
Gospel Matthew 18:15-20 (NRSV, CatholicEdition)

Jesus said to his disciples:
‘If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax-collector. Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.’


Today's gospel looks at forgiveness, mainly from the point of view of helping someone to acknowledge a wrongdoing and thereby asking for and receiving forgiveness. I often think about a Christian Brother who taught me in Dublin and one incident involving him that I witnessed and another I heard about years later. I'll simply copy from a previous post, with one or two slight changes.
Full post here.

1 Sep 2017

'For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life?' Sunday Reflections, 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A


The Repentant Peter, El Greco [Web Gallery of Art]


Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)


From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, ‘God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.’ But he turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling-block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.’
Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?

‘For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done.
Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world. But for Wales? [3:36 - 4:15]

For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? (Matthew 16:26, RSVCE)

For Readings and Reflections for the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A,  click on the following: 

Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

17 Aug 2017

'Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.' Sunday Reflections, 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A


The Canaanite Woman, 
Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry [Wikipedia]


For Readings and Reflections for the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A,  click on the following: 



Sunday Reflections for this Sunday three years ago links the situation of the Canaanite woman in the gospel with the situation of Christians in war-torn Iraq and Syria. The video above features the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in Qaraqosh, near Mosul, after it was liberated from ISIS last October.

The vast majority of Catholics in Iraq and Syria belong to the Chaldean Catholic Church and Syrian Catholic Church. There are more than twenty Eastern Catholic Churches, though the vast majority of Catholics worldwide are Roman (or Latin) Catholics. All are equally Catholic and all are in full communion with Rome. Archbishop Mouche (also spelled Moshe), belongs to the Syrian Catholic Church.

May we continue to pray for the Church in Iraq and Syria with the persistent faith of the Canaanite woman in today's gospel.

I invite all to pray that Iraq may find peace, unity, and prosperity in reconciliation and in harmony among its different ethnic and religious components. (Pope Francis, 29 March 2017).

28 Jul 2017

'It is the Eucharist, the Christ who died and is risen, that gives us life.' Sunday Reflections, 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A


Religious pendant showing Christ blessing, framed with rubies and pearls [Wikipedia]

The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it (Matthew 13:45).

For Readings and Reflections for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A, click on the following:
Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Chaldean Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of Sorrows, Baghdad, Iraq [Wikipedia]
In Sunday Reflections for this Sunday three years ago I highlighted the situation of Christians in Iraq and Syria and included a statement by Patriarch Louis Raphael I of the Chaldean Catholic Church dated 17 July 2014. Below is a video of the Patriarch reopening a Catholic Church in Tel Kaif (Tel Keppe), about 12 kms north of Mosul, in January of this year. This area is historically the centre of the Chaldean Catholic community in Iraq.
Please pray for all of the Christians of Iraq and Syria, all of them Arabs whose ancestors became Christians in the very early days of the Church.
Today we brought back part of our dignity.
A recent article about the situation of the Church in Mosul: Now that Mosul is liberated from ISIS, will Christians return?

11 Nov 2016

'By your endurance you will gain your souls.' Sunday Reflections, 33rd Sunday, Ordinary Time

Nave of the Archbasilica of St John Lateran
Gospel Luke 21:5-19 
When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, Jesus said,  ‘As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.’
They asked him, ‘Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?’ And he said, ‘Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, “I am he!” and, “The time is near!” Do not go after them.
‘When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately.’ Then he said to them, ‘Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven.
‘But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. This will give you an opportunity to testify. So make up your minds not to prepare your defence in advance; for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your souls.
Earthquake destroys Basilica of St Benedict, 30 Oct., 2016

This Sunday falls between two celebrations of church buildings in Rome, the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica on 9 November and the Optional Memorial of the Dedication of the Basilicas of Saints Peter and Paul on 18 November. When the former falls on a Sunday its celebration takes precedence over the Sunday. The official name of the Lateran Basicilica is the Archbasilica of the Most Holy Saviour and of Saints John the Baptist and the Evangelist and is the Cathedral of the Diocese of Rome.

Full post here.

14 Nov 2015

'My words will not pass away.' Sunday Reflections, 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B


Adoration of the Name of Jesus, El Greco, 1578-79
Chapter House, Monasterio de San Lorenzo, El Escorial, Spain


Gospel Mark 13:24-32(NRSV, Catholic Ed., Can.)
Jesus said to his disciples:
“But in those days, after that suffering,
the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light,
and the stars will be falling from heaven,
and the powers in the heavens will be shaken
Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in clouds’ with great power and glory. Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.

“From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

“But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

In recent months refugees have been in the news almost daily, refugees from the Middle East and from Africa heading for Europe, Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh and Myanmar heading for other countries in Asia. For most of these people, many of whom have died in their efforts to find a better life, the words of Jesus in today's Gospel, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, are already in the past tense.

The Christians of Iraq and Syria, all of them Arabs and with 2,000 years of living the Christian faith behind them, are facing annihilation as a community because of the actions in recent years of ISIS/ISIL/IS. And the Christians of Iraq now face another blow. The Iraqi parliament recently passed a bill that would force some Christian children to become Muslims.

Full post here.

18 Jul 2015

'I will raise up shepherds . . .' Sunday Reflections, 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

Akademie der bildenden Künste, Vienna [Web Gallery of Art]
Gospel Mark 6:30-34 (NRV,Version, Catholic Edition, Canada)  
The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves. Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things. 

Fr Ragheed Aziz Ganni 
(20 January 1972 - 3 June 2007)
I will raise up shepherds over them who will shepherd them, and they shall not fear any longer, or be dismayed, nor shall any be missing, says the Lord (Jeremiah 23:4. First Reading).
On at least six occasions during his recent nine-day pastoral visit to Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay, Pope Francis asked the people to pray for him, as he did when he addressed the people in St Peter's Square for the first time as pope in 2013. 
Full post here.

12 Jun 2015

'The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground . . .' Sunday Reflections, 11th Sunday in Ordinary time, Year B

A Grove of Cedars of Lebanon [Wikipedia]
On the mountain height of Israel I will plant it, in order that it may produce boughs and bear fruit, and become a noble cedar (Ezekiel 17:23 - First Reading).
Jesus said to the crowds: “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.”
He also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”
With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples.
The Sower (after Millet)October 1889, Saint-Rémy, Van Gogh
Below is part of what I posted three years ago for this Sunday.  It is now 73 years since my parents married and 'the youngest born last month' is now aged three. His father came through the medical procedure successfully, thank God.

The parables in this Sunday's gospel remind us that the faith has had many small beginnings. Perhaps the greatest is the Twelve Apostles. 

Full post here.

9 Apr 2015

'Unless I see the mark of the nails . . .' Sunday Reflections, 2nd Sunday of Easter, Year B

The Gospel of John (2003) dir. by Philip Saville- John 20:19-31  Today is now known also as 'Sunday of Divine Mercy' and in some English-speaking countries as 'Low Sunday'.

Gospel John 20:19-31
 When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.  Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”
A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.”  Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.”  Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”  Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah,the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.

Apostle St ThomasJusepe Martínez, c.1630 Szépmûvészeti Múzeum, Budapest [Web Gallery of Art]
I carry a scar on one of my hips from surgery when I was 17. I can't even remember which hip. But the scar is there, along with a couple of smaller scars from accidents when I was young. I hardly ever think about them. But they are there.

St Thomas's instinct was right: Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe. He knew that if the Lord was truly risen he would carry the scars of his suffering. And he carries them for all eternity. Full post here.

26 Sep 2014

"He answered, ‘I will not’; but later he changed his mind and went." Sunday Reflections, 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

St Matthew, El Greco,1610-14
Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa) 
Gospel Matthew 21:28-32 (New Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition: Canada

Jesus said to the chief priest and the elders of the people:
“What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ He answered, ‘I will not’; but later he changed his mind and went. The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, ‘I go, sir’; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” continue>
The above scene, at the Coliseum in Rome, comes shortly before the end of the 1983 made-for-TV move, The Scarlet and the Black, which tells the true World War II story of Vatican-based Irish priest Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty, known as 'The Vatican Pimpernel' and played here by Gregory Peck, and Colonel Herbert Kappler, head of the Gestapo in Rome during the Nazi occupation from September 1943 till June 1944, played by Christopher Plummer. The priest has managed to save the lives of many Allied soldiers and others, getting under the skin of Kappler  Full post here.

20 Sep 2014

'Are you envious because I am generous?' Sunday Reflections, 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A

Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard, Johann Christian Brand, 1769
Akademie der bildenden Künste, Vienna [Web Gallery of Art]
Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa) 


Gospel Matthew 20:1-16a (New Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition: Canada)  

Jesus said to his disciples:
“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard.  When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace; and he said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went.  When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same.  And about five o’clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, ‘Why are you standing here idle all day?’  They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard.’ 

Vineyards in Languedoc-Roussillion region, France [Wikipedia]


I spent a grace-filled year in Toronto in 1981-82 doing a sabbatical at Regis College, a Jesuit school. The programme I was in was for persons with pastoral experience. Nearly all of us were priests or religious brothers and sisters, with one or two laypersons. One of the graces of that year was making new friends.        Full post here.

13 Sep 2014

'So must the Son of Man be lifted up.' Sunday Reflections, The Exaltation of the Holy Cross.

Art Museum, Cincinnati, USA [Web Gallery of Art]


Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa) 


Jesus said to Nicodemus: No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
NicodemusUnknown Master, Flemish
Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Ghent, Belgium [Web Gallery of Art]
The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines has designated the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross this year as National Day of Prayer for Peace in Iraq and Syria. Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, President of the CBCP, wrote to his fellow bishops: In all our Masses on the feast of the Holy Cross, let us unite ourselves with our suffering brothers and sisters, commending to the God who is our hope their pains, their shattered lives and dreams, their bereavement and their loss. He also asked for a special collection at all Masses, the money to be sent by the CBCP to the charity aid of the Apostolic Nunciatures in Iraq and Syria.
Full post here.

Antarctic 'Hot' Spots

Some scientists say there'll be more carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere this year. They may be right. I think the information...