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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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Bernard of Clairvaux: Man of the century! Woman of the century! You see such terms applied to so many today—“golfer of the century,” “composer of the century,” “right tackle of the century”—that the line no longer has any punch. But Western Europe's “man of the twelfth century,” without doubt or controversy, has to be Bernard of Clairvaux. Adviser of popes, preacher of the Second Crusade, defender of the faith, healer of a schism, reformer of a monastic Order, Scripture scholar, theologian and eloquent preacher: any one of these titles would distinguish an ordinary man. Yet Bernard was all of these—and he still retained a burning desire to return to the hidden monastic life of his younger days. 
<p>In the year 1111, at the age of 20, Bernard left his home to join the monastic community of Citeaux. His five brothers, two uncles and some 30 young friends followed him into the monastery. Within four years a dying community had recovered enough vitality to establish a new house in the nearby valley of Wormwoods, with Bernard as abbot. The zealous young man was quite demanding, though more on himself than others. A slight breakdown of health taught him to be more patient and understanding. The valley was soon renamed Clairvaux, the valley of light. </p><p>His ability as arbitrator and counselor became widely known. More and more he was lured away from the monastery to settle long-standing disputes. On several of these occasions he apparently stepped on some sensitive toes in Rome. Bernard was completely dedicated to the primacy of the Roman See. But to a letter of warning from Rome, he replied that the good fathers in Rome had enough to do to keep the Church in one piece. If any matters arose that warranted their interest, he would be the first to let them know. </p><p>Shortly thereafter it was Bernard who intervened in a full-blown schism and settled it in favor of the Roman pontiff against the antipope. </p><p>The Holy See prevailed on Bernard to preach the Second Crusade throughout Europe. His eloquence was so overwhelming that a great army was assembled and the success of the crusade seemed assured. The ideals of the men and their leaders, however, were not those of Abbot Bernard, and the project ended as a complete military and moral disaster. </p><p>Bernard felt responsible in some way for the degenerative effects of the crusade. This heavy burden possibly hastened his death, which came August 20, 1153.</p> American Catholic Blog One of the things that we need to remember is that we’re preaching Jesus, not the institutional Church. It’s easy to get caught up in the rules and regulations of the institution and forget that we are saved not by the Church but by the person of Jesus or the Church as the body of Christ.

 
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