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Bible Reflections View Comments

Advent Is too Important to Miss
By Diane M. Houdek
Source: Bringing Home the Word
Published: Sunday, December 1, 2013
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“The night is advanced; the day is at hand”—a paradoxical thought at the beginning of Advent, coming as it does in the winter of the year when the days are ever shorter, the nights longer, darker, colder. This very discrepancy jolts us into awareness. It is easy to be wrapped up in our own comfort at this time of year. In our attempts to escape the threat of snow and the starkness of black tree branches against cold skies, we build fires in the fireplace or turn up the furnace. We have festive meals. We shop and decorate and bake for Christmas celebrations.

But Advent calls us to an awareness of something beyond the comfort and cheer of Christmas traditions, calls us into the winter of the year to see the beauty of waiting—darkness waiting for light, emptiness waiting for fullness, cold waiting for warmth, hearts waiting for love.

Our Gospel today warns us not to be lulled to sleep by daily routines and the flurry of holiday activity. Jesus condemns the people of Noah’s time not for their activities, but for their indifference to the realities of life in their midst. Too often we like to pretend there’s nothing beyond the next festivity.

Advent is a time to prepare ourselves not for a whirl of Christmas parties but for the Lord, who is continually breaking into our lives.

We might shake our heads at the obvious truth in Jesus’s statement: “If the owner knew when the thief was coming, he would not let him break into the house.” In these days of elaborate security alarms and neighborhood watch programs, we seem to have decided that the best response is to be always vigilant against threats known and unknown. But have we prepared as well for the coming of the Lord into our lives? How aware are we of the Lord trying to break open our hearts?

Advent calls us to transform our lives because of God’s promise to dwell in our midst. As the liturgical seasons and scriptures cycle around each year, we might begin by asking, “Where was I when this was proclaimed last, and where will I be when it’s proclaimed this year? How has my life changed?”

Advent comes into the darkness of our everyday lives with a promise of love and light, a challenge of conversion, a sense of discovery. Advent is a time to rediscover our faith, to explore who we are and whom we follow. The prophets call us to believe in God’s promise—to take risks, to make difficult choices, to give of ourselves.

Christmas celebrates the first risk Jesus took: being born into our world. Every day we’re called to take the risk of living in that world and transforming it through our belief in God’s promise fulfilled in Jesus the Christ. Grounded in our faith, we discover that taking risks can awaken within us a sense of promise and anticipation, not dread and fear and remorse.

Once when I was a child, the northern lights were making a particularly dazzling display in the skies over our house. My parents tried to wake me for it but said I just wouldn’t wake up enough to go outside. I’ve always regretted missing that experience. Paul tells the Romans: “You know the time; it is the hour for you to awake from sleep. For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.” And Jesus tells his disciples, “Stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.” They’re not saying this to frighten us, but to make sure we don’t miss the wonder that is Emmanuel.



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James of the Marche: Meet one of the fathers of the modern pawnshop! 
<p>James was born in the Marche of Ancona, in central Italy along the Adriatic Sea. After earning doctorates in canon and civil law at the University of Perugia, he joined the Friars Minor and began a very austere life. He fasted nine months of the year; he slept three hours a night. St. Bernardine of Siena told him to moderate his penances. </p><p>James studied theology with St. John of Capistrano. Ordained in 1420, James began a preaching career that took him all over Italy and through 13 Central and Eastern European countries. This extremely popular preacher converted many people (250,000 at one estimate) and helped spread devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus. His sermons prompted numerous Catholics to reform their lives and many men joined the Franciscans under his influence. </p><p>With John of Capistrano, Albert of Sarteano and Bernardine of Siena, James is considered one of the "four pillars" of the Observant movement among the Franciscans. These friars became known especially for their preaching. </p><p>To combat extremely high interest rates, James established <i>montes pietatis</i> (literally, mountains of charity)--nonprofit credit organizations that lent money at very low rates on pawned objects. </p><p>Not everyone was happy with the work James did. Twice assassins lost their nerve when they came face to face with him. James died in 1476 and was canonized in 1726.</p> American Catholic Blog We all have fears, but we don’t have to be afraid. Jesus is always with us to protect us and give us courage. We only have to remember that the battle is the Lord’s. When Jesus gives us the victory, let’s be sure to thank Him and praise Him for what He has done.

 
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