Inspirational Snippet: Jesus is pursuing those who are in darkness, seeking out any openness they have toward him, waiting at their side for them to ask for his help, and preparing one (or more) of us to step in to help them turn to the healing love of Jesus.
Prisoners too can relate to this incident in the life of Jesus in a special way. The two men who had been delivered from so many demons were ready to enter society once more - they paid dearly for their indulgence - they suffered from lack of dignity, respect and a total loss of hope - yet the joy they expected from the crowd was lacking. No one was impressed by their conversion. There were only complaints over the cost of that conversion. The two men delivered by Jesus were delivered of violent, hateful demons, but were not the townspeople under the influence of the quiet demons of greed, ambition, self-indulgence and selfishness? We cannot imagine the state of each soul who pleaded that God's Son leave their town. It is ironic that the two who were so visibly possessed were freed by the power of Jesus and accepted His love, while those who were respected citizens asked the God of Mercy to leave them alone. Can it be that we are all in a kind of prison? Is it possible that those who are in prison today, publicly punished for their violence and crimes, have the opportunity to change and turn to Jesus - accept His Love and end up more free in heart and soul than those outside prison walls? Repentance can make the rejected ones acceptable to God, while pride makes those accepted by the world and its standards, rejected by God. When we begin to build walls of prejudice, hatred, pride and self-indulgence around ourselves, we are more surely imprisoned than any prisoner behind concrete walls and iron bars. There are many imprisoned in this way for their entire lives - they never experience the freedom of the children of light - only the comfort of the false protection of the darkness. The pain of changing frightens them and so they prefer their selfishness and complacency to the Word of God or the healing power of His Cross.
I was reading about the two demoniacs who had been delivered by Jesus of many demons . The townspeople complained about the cost of the conversion . Why did they not see that Jesus could also free them of their inner demons ?
I remember a dream I had in the earky years of my conversion . I saw myself behind bars in a self made prison and I was shocked . Our mind can become clouded even when we pray . Do we know the person we are praying to ? Our conscience is it still intact ? Pain and misery is our lot at times . When we know Jesus that pain and misery can be transformed . It was when Jesus freed the demoniacs . Joy was theirs but it wasn't in the crowd . Why ! That crowd had it's own demons . Inner demons of greed , selfishness and self- indulgence . Imagine pleading that the Son of God should leave their towns .
Christmas lights begin to appear in November. Is this just commercialism, or somehow do holiday lights tie into the true meaning of Advent and Christmas?
As fall moves onward towards winter we have places to go, things to do, people to meet. Yet as we go about our business, we notice the days are getting shorter. Sweaters come out of storage, we close the windows, and turn on the heat.
Advent is a season where we stop and remember that the light of this world is waning in more ways than one. That the world as we know it is passing away.
The world “secular” comes from the Latin word for this present world with its priorities–getting a job, paying the bills, finding a mate. Politics, economics, entertainment, sports are all realities of the secular world. “Secularism” is the modern program that insists that this is all that there is. A version popular in America says that there may be more to life than this, but it is entirely a private affair that you may not talk about in public. God, higher values, heaven, are all out-of- bounds topics in school, politics, and the news media.
Secularism wants us to live under the illusion that things will always be the way they are. There may be ups and downs in the economy, but it will keep humming along. Elections may change the office holders, but the government will just keep on keeping on. That’s the way people thought in Noah’s day. But then the flood came (Mat 24:37-44).
St. Paul calls this attitude being asleep (Ro 13:11-14). God breaking into space and time, in a manger in Bethlehem, changed things forever. The central moment of human history has come and gone; we’re in the end game now. The things that now seem so real, so ultimate, will come to a crashing halt.
For many of us in December, the bleak light injects a dose of melancholy into our disposition. But then we remember that “the holidays” are coming --there is something to look forward to! We string lights on our shrubs and put candles in our windows to cheer ourselves up and thumb our nose at the darkness.
For Christians, these lights have a deeper meaning. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. At the moment when darkness of human society is at its deepest, the Light of the World will come.
So it is a waste of our time to get educated and employed? Should we just spend our days praying, reading the Bible, and trying to predict dates for the Return of the King?
St. Paul sharply rebuked some for taking this approach. As focused as Paul was on the age to come, he was thoroughly engaged in this one. Besides his profound life of prayer and preaching, he labored with his hands to the point of exhaustion so as not be a burden on anyone, and have something to give to the needy. He said that those that refuse to work should not eat (2 Thes 3:6-13). The Second Vatican Council said that living for the future world should make us more, not less, committed to improving this one (Gaudium et Spes 37).
Besides, the Lord clearly says that his Second and final coming will be at the time we least expect it (Mat 24:44). If God is purposely designing it to be a surprise, I don’t think there is much hope of outsmarting Him.
So what do we do about His Coming? Very simple. By the power of his grace, let’s make sure that when the Light arrives that it won’t for us be a cruel light. Are there things in your life that you’d rather not be seen by God and everyone else? Then you’d best get busy rooting them out of your life. Because the Light will reveal all.
Waiting with the Word Our waiting is always shaped by alertness to the Word. It is waiting in the knowledge that someone wants to address us. The question is, are we home? Are we at our address, ready to respond to the doorbell? We need to wait together, to keep each other at home spiritually, so that when the Word comes it can become flesh in us. That is why the Book of God is always in the midst of those who gather. We read the Word so that the Word can become flesh and have a whole new life in us.
“Advent” is simply the Latin word for “coming.” If we can manage to meditate on any “coming” in December besides the comings and goings of Christmas shopping, it would be Christ’s coming to Mary in a stable
But the liturgy of the first three weeks of Advent speaks of another coming, the second and final coming of Jesus at the end of time.
From the earliest days of the Church, people have been fascinated by Jesus’ promise to return. Many have claimed to recognize the signs of his imminent return and even have tried to predict the actual date . They’ve had some explaining to do when he failed to show up as forecasted.
I have news for you. I am absolutely certain that we, today, are truly living in the last days. How do I know? Because we’ve been living in the last days since Jesus has ascended into heaven (1 Jn 2:18, 1 Pet 4:7).
When is Jesus coming back? That’s the wrong question. The last trumpet, Jesus riding on the clouds–is all this to be taken symbolically or literally? Wrong question again.
Have you heard the joke about the young priest who rushes into the pastor’s office and says “The Lord has been spotted walking up the aisle of the Church. What do we do?”
The pastor looks up with alarm and says: “For God sake, Father, look busy!”
We should not be wasting our time theorizing about dates, or the nature of the rapture or the final tribulation. This is a distraction. Rather, we are not just to look busy but actually be busy preparing the way for his return.
That means being prepared and ready, not weighted down, neutralized, and utterly distracted by the cares of this world (Lk 21: 34-36). It means, as Paul tells us in 1 Thes 3, to work to make greater progress in the life of holiness, “putting on” the character of Christ. It also means preparing the way by calling others to faith in Christ, since all baptized Catholics are called to be evangelizers.
The second coming of Christ, like the first, involves a birth. Only this time, it will be the birth of a new heavens and a new earth (2 Pet 3:13; Ro 8:19-23; CCC 1042). Birth is always preceded by labor and travail. In fact birth is a sort of crisis that puts everyone involved to the test. The labor pains to bring one baby to birth are intense enough. Imagine the labor pains prior to the birth of a whole new creation.
With all due respect to the Left Behind fantasies, faithful Christians won’t be spared the tribulation preceding His final coming any more than Mary and Joseph were spared the tribulations surrounding his first coming (CCC 672, 1 Cor 7:26). The idea of a secret rapture snatching Christians away from what the Catechism calls “the final cosmic upheaval” (CCC 677) appears nowhere in the Bible or tradition. It is an idea concocted by a sectarian Protestant teacher in the 19th century and was immediately rejected as dangerous by other Protestant pastors.
Why? Because if we think we’ll be exempted from suffering, then why prepare for it? And when crisis does in fact come, we may buckle under the pressure.
But doesn’t all this talk of tribulation put a damper on the festive holiday spirit?
Are parents any less excited about the birth of their first child because they may have to take a Lamaze class or talk to the doctor about pain meds and cesarean sections? There is no birth without labor. So as we rejoice in hope over the imminent new arrival, perhaps we ought to do everything possible to make sure that the labor goes successfully. That way there’ll be something to rejoice about.
And we better not dilly-dally. It could be any day now.