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Bible Reflections View Comments

Change Is the One Constant in Life
By Diane M. Houdek
Source: Bringing Home the Word
Published: Sunday, November 18, 2012
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Psychologists tell us that the stress from positive events can have exactly the same effect on our bodies as the stress from negative events. We sometimes overlook this fact and then wonder why we find ourselves getting sick at a time when everything seems to be going well.

Cardinal John Henry Newman once said, “To be human is to change. To be perfect is to have changed often.” Our lives are filled with change, and many of those changes involve endings and death, whether actual physical death or the death of something important to us, part of our lives, the way we define who we are and what we hold dear. No matter how many times we experience changes large and small, they still can startle us. And yet everything we know in our world changes.

All creation moves and changes constantly. The seasons change according to a natural cycle each year. As the earth circles the sun and rotates on its axis, different areas are closer to or farther away from the sun. The changing levels of light and heat affect all growing things, ourselves included. From earlest times, people have noted the changing seasons and arranged their lives accordingly. Even in our increasingly contained and technological lifestyle, we can never completely escape the changing seasons.

So it is with our faith. It’s easy to hear Jesus’s words as the prediction of some cataclysmic end of the world. But the image Jesus uses suggests that the portents will be much more in line with the natural changes of our everyday lives. He talks about the spring buds on the fig tree as a sign that summer and its fruitfulness are near at hand.

As long as we can accept that change is natural, we don’t need to live in fear. The French have a saying that translates to, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” For us, what stays the same is the core of our faith, the belief that God is the “stillpoint of the turning world.”

Today’s reading from the book of Daniel makes an interesting observation: “The wise shall shine brightly like the splendor of the firmament, and those who lead the many to justice shall be like the stars forever.” We know, as the original biblical author did not, that this image is truer than he might have imagined. The light of the stars comes from such a great distance that the star itself may have burned out long before its light ever reaches the earth.

The good that we do lives on long after the short span of our mortal lives has ended. We add to the light that brightens our world and brings people closer to Christ who is the true light. Jesus reminds us that we don’t know when the world will end. In fact, we don’t even know the day or the hour when our own lives will end. But we do know that end they will, at least in their present form.

If we’re working each day to do our part to reveal the presence of the kingdom of God in our midst, then what we’re doing today is likely to be little different than what we’d be doing if it were the last day of our lives. As we become more flexible, more willing the move with the inevitable changes of life, we come closer to understanding that end as just another change to bring us closer to divine perfection.


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Cyril and Methodius: Because their father was an officer in a part of Greece inhabited by many Slavs, these two Greek brothers ultimately became missionaries, teachers and patrons of the Slavic peoples. 
<p>After a brilliant course of studies, Cyril (called Constantine until he became a monk shortly before his death) refused the governorship of a district such as his brother had accepted among the Slavic-speaking population. Cyril withdrew to a monastery where his brother Methodius had become a monk after some years in a governmental post. </p><p>A decisive change in their lives occurred when the Duke of Moravia (present-day Czech Republic) asked the Eastern Emperor Michael for political independence from German rule and ecclesiastical autonomy (having their own clergy and liturgy). Cyril and Methodius undertook the missionary task. </p><p>Cyril’s first work was to invent an alphabet, still used in some Eastern liturgies. His followers probably formed the Cyrillic alphabet (for example, modern Russian) from Greek capital letters. Together they translated the Gospels, the psalter, Paul’s letters and the liturgical books into Slavonic, and composed a Slavonic liturgy, highly irregular then. </p><p>That and their free use of the vernacular in preaching led to opposition from the German clergy. The bishop refused to consecrate Slavic bishops and priests, and Cyril was forced to appeal to Rome. On the visit to Rome, he and Methodius had the joy of seeing their new liturgy approved by Pope Adrian II. Cyril, long an invalid, died in Rome 50 days after taking the monastic habit. </p><p>Methodius continued mission work for 16 more years. He was papal legate for all the Slavic peoples, consecrated a bishop and then given an ancient see (now in the Czech Republic). When much of their former territory was removed from their jurisdiction, the Bavarian bishops retaliated with a violent storm of accusation against Methodius. As a result, Emperor Louis the German exiled Methodius for three years. Pope John VIII secured his release. </p><p>Because the Frankish clergy, still smarting, continued their accusations, Methodius had to go to Rome to defend himself against charges of heresy and uphold his use of the Slavonic liturgy. He was again vindicated. </p><p>Legend has it that in a feverish period of activity, Methodius translated the whole Bible into Slavonic in eight months. He died on Tuesday of Holy Week, surrounded by his disciples, in his cathedral church. </p><p>Opposition continued after his death, and the work of the brothers in Moravia was brought to an end and their disciples scattered. But the expulsions had the beneficial effect of spreading the spiritual, liturgical and cultural work of the brothers to Bulgaria, Bohemia and southern Poland. Patrons of Moravia, and specially venerated by Catholic Czechs, Slovaks, Croatians, Orthodox Serbians and Bulgarians, Cyril and Methodius are eminently fitted to guard the long-desired unity of East and West. In 1980, Pope John Paul II named them additional co-patrons of Europe (with Benedict).</p> American Catholic Blog This is the beauty of self-giving love: Men and women, driven by love, freely choose to give up their autonomy, to limit their freedom, by committing themselves to the good of the spouse. Love is so powerful that it impels them to want to surrender their will to their beloved in this profound way.

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