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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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Anthony Grassi: Anthony’s father died when his son was only 10 years old, but the young lad inherited his father’s devotion to Our Lady of Loreto. As a schoolboy he frequented the local church of the Oratorian Fathers, joining the religious order when he was 17.
<p>Already a fine student, he soon gained a reputation in his religious community as a "walking dictionary" who quickly grasped Scripture and theology. For some time he was tormented by scruples, but they reportedly left him at the very hour he celebrated his first Mass. From that day, serenity penetrated his very being.
</p><p>In 1621, at age 29, Anthony was struck by lightning while praying in the church of the Holy House at Loreto. He was carried paralyzed from the church, expecting to die. When he recovered in a few days he realized that he had been cured of acute indigestion. His scorched clothes were donated to the Loreto church as an offering of thanks for his new gift of life.
</p><p>More important, Anthony now felt that his life belonged entirely to God. Each year thereafter he made a pilgrimage to Loreto to express his thanks.
</p><p>He also began hearing confessions, and came to be regarded as an outstanding confessor. Simple and direct, he listened carefully to penitents, said a few words and gave a penance and absolution, frequently drawing on his gift of reading consciences.
</p><p>In 1635 he was elected superior of the Fermo Oratory. He was so well regarded that he was reelected every three years until his death. He was a quiet person and a gentle superior who did not know how to be severe. At the same time he kept the Oratorian constitutions literally, encouraging the community to do likewise.
</p><p>He refused social or civic commitments and instead would go out day or night to visit the sick or dying or anyone else needing his services. As he grew older, he had a God-given awareness of the future, a gift which he frequently used to warn or to console.
</p><p>But age brought its challenges as well. He suffered the humility of having to give up his physical faculties one by one. First was his preaching, necessitated after he lost his teeth. Then he could no longer hear confessions. Finally, after a fall, he was confined to his room. The archbishop himself came each day to give him holy Communion. One of Anthony’s final acts was to reconcile two fiercely quarreling brothers.</p> American Catholic Blog God of love, as I come to the end of this Advent season, my heart is ready to celebrate the birth of Jesus. I join with Mary in saying, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Nothing is impossible with you, O God.

 
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