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BHTW December 2007

BHTW December 2007

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Published by: cheryl on Nov 29, 2007
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“The night is advanced; the day is athand”—a paradoxical thought at thebeginning of Advent, coming as it doesin the winter of the year when the daysare ever shorter, the nights longer, dark-er, colder. This very discrepancy jolts usinto awareness. It is easy to be wrappedup in our own comfort at this time of year. In our attempts to escape the greyskies that threaten snow, the starknessof black branches of winter trees againstcold skies, we build fires in the fireplaceor turn up the furnace. We have festivemeals. We shop and decorate and bakefor Christmas celebrations.But Advent calls us to an awarenessof something beyond the comfort andcheer of Christmas traditions, calls usinto the winter of the year to see thebeauty of waiting—darkness waitingfor light, emptiness waiting for full-ness, cold waiting for warmth, heartswaiting for love.Our Gospel today warns us not to belulled to sleep by daily routines andthe holiday flurry of activity. Jesus con-demns the people of Noah’s time notfor their activities, but for their indif-ference to the realities of life in theirmidst. Too often we like to pretendthere’s nothing beyond the next festivi-ty. Advent is a time to prepare our-selves not for a whirl of Christmas par-ties but for the Lord who is continuallybreaking into our lives. We might shake our heads at theobvious truth in Jesus’ statement: “If the owner knew when the thief wascoming, he would not let him breakinto the house.” In these days of elabo-rate security alarms and neighborhoodwatch programs, we seem to havedecided that the best response is to bealways vigilant against threats knownand unknown. But have we prepared aswell for the coming of the Lord intoour lives? How aware are we of theLord trying to break open our hearts?Advent calls us to transform ourlives because of God’s promise to dwellin our midst. As the liturgical seasonsand scriptures cycle around each year,we might begin by asking, Where was Iwhen this was proclaimed last andwhere will I be when it’s proclaimedthis 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 conver-sion, a sense of discovery. Advent is atime to rediscover our faith, to explorewho we are and who we follow. Theprophets call us to believe in God’spromise—to take risks, to make diffi-cult choices, to give of ourselves.Christmas celebrates the first risk Jesustoo
—being born into our world. Everyday we’re called to take the risk of liv-ing in that world and transforming itthrough our belief in God’s promisefulfilled in Jesus the Christ. Groundedin our faith, we discover that takingrisks can awaken within us a sense of promise and anticipation, not dreadand fear and remorse.Once when I was a child, the north-ern lights were making a particularlydazzling displa
in the skies over ourhouse. My parents tried to wake me forit, but said I just wouldn’t wake upenough to go outside. I’ve alwaysregretted missing that experience. Paultells the Romans, “You know the time;it is the hour for you to awake fromsleep. For our salvation is nearer nowthan when we first believed.” And Jesus tells his disciples, “Stay awake!For you do not know on which dayyour Lord will come.” They’re not say-ing this to frighten us, but to makesure we don’t miss the wonder that isEmmanuel.
Isaiah 2:1-5
A prophet describes the wonderfulchanges that will take place when peo-ple look to God for instruction.
Romans 13:11-14
Paul tells us that our salvation is near athand.
Matthew 24:37-44
 Jesus admonishes all to be in a constantstate of preparedness.
St.Anthony Messenger Press
An Advent Wake-Up Call
By Diane M.Houdek 
December 2,2007
Editor:Diane M.Houdek;Art Director:Michael Winegardner;Illustrations by Julie LonnemanFor licensing information,call
or visit
 www.BringingHometheWord.org.Copyright © 2007
,St.Anthony Messenger Press,28 W.Liberty St.,Cincinnati,OH 45202.
All rights reserved.Print duplication rights granted only to license holder.
Create a family Advent wreath.Afterthe sun sets on the First Sunday of Advent,turn out all the house lights.Stand for a few moments in the dark-ness.Listen to the house noises,feelthe darkness.Then,light one candleon the wreath and watch the lightradiate around you.Say together ,“Jesus Christ,Light of the world,comeinto our hearts again.”
The church has designated particu-lar colors to carry the symbolismand mood of each sacred season.The liturgical color for Advent ispurple, not red or even green.These colors are meant to create aliturgical mood that key into thegrace of the season. It is importantfor us to put aside the colors of Christmas with all the decorationsand first display the more somberpurple tones of Advent. Put out alittle purple this year in your homeand save the colors of Christmas fortheir own time.
Come,long-awaited SaviorFill the dark placesof my lifewith your amazing LightCome to those placeswhere I have closedthe shutters,drawn the curtainsand refuse to openmy soulto the truththat light brings.Come,long-awaited Savior,change me.Amen.
Something about darkness scares us. We imag-ine things “that go bump in the night.” Itseems to be a universal fear. Everyone runsfrom the horrors of the night into the bless-ings of dawn. Little surprise, then, that theAdvent story begins in the darkness.Everything that scares us about being alone,without God’s love, can be known in the gutfeelings of standing in the dark of night. We are invited on this first Sunday of Advent to experience the darkness so that wecan receive the Light with grace. In the dark-est and longest nights of the solar year, we canpause in the pre-holiday rush and simplystand in the quiet of night.This is the perfect time to take a night walk. We can go alone or gather our family andwalk out into the night. If we can walk in aplace far from the city lights it is all the better. What parts of our lives are filled with theunknown? What light can Jesus bring to thefuture? Of what are we afraid? These ques-tions of the night are the soul work of Advent.The Scriptures call us to keep Advent inquiet darkness so that we can revel in thesplendid sound and light of “
Gloria inExcelsis Deo
By Jeanne Hunt
Who are you and who do you fol-low?
What practical changes can youmake in your holiday plans in orderto keep Advent?
How can you enter into Advent andput off Christmas until these fourweeks have passed?
Is 4:2-6/Mt 8:5-11
Francis Xavier 
Is 11:1-10/Lk 10:21-24
Is 25:6-10a/Mt 15:29-37
Is 26:1-6/Mt 7:21,24-27
Is 29:17-24/Mt 9:27-31
Gn 3:9-15,20/Eph 1:3-6,11-12/Lk1:26-38
Immaculate Conception
 Join the Conversation!
Visit the
Bringing Home the Word 
blog(http://bhtw.wordpress.com) toshare your experience of making theWord part of your everyday livesand to comment on what you’veread here.
December 2,2007
Prophets are gifted with an intense per-sonal awareness of God's love for hispeople. Their call both inspires andcompels them to preach this word tothose who will listen — and to thosewho close their ears. From the time aprophet hears the word of God, theburning desire is to find the words thatwill express this eternal message to thepeople of one time and place.The Word of God was spoken to John, son of Zechariah, in the desert,and John knew that the old orderwould have to pass away. Having pre-pared himself not through templeobservances but through desert fastsand prayers, he comes out of thedeserts preaching reform and conver-sion. The kingdom of God was athand. The great prophets of theHebrew scriptures may struggle withtheir call to be prophet, but they neverdeny the word of the Lord. John the Baptist, the man Jesusspoke of as the greatest of theprophets, knew the desire of theprophet to tell people of the love of God. But the call to be prophet ismakes demands, asking one to riskeverything for the word. John became avoice in the wilderness, a man totallyfocused on his call and God's message.In his desert fasts and struggles hemust have known the experience of being alone with only the whisper of God's word in his heart. Yet this whis-per clamors to be proclaimed and wemust come forth from our desertsilence. John found his message”“Prepare the way of the Lord. Thekingdom of heaven is at hand. Repentand believe the good news.” John was rooted in the message of the Hebrew prophets, but he was beingcalled to proclaim something com-pletely new. Roots aren’t enough. Weneed to grow and bear fruit. Wintercan lull us into a state of resting, of waiting for spring to energize us.A group of Pharisees and Sadduceescome to John the Baptist relying ontheir status as sons of Abraham. But John tells them that the ax is at theroot of trees that aren’t producing fruit.The Gospel gives us a vivid image of dead wood and chaff being burnedwhile the fruit and grain are gatheredinto barns to nourish and sustain life.Roots provide valuable nourishment.They make life possible. But if they’retoo constrained, they can inhibit thevery growth they’re designed to nour-ish. Isaiah’s well-known vision of nature in harmony calls us to imaginesworn enemies sharing food and shel-ter, frolicking as companions. And theprophet neither minimizes the distinc-tions nor emphasizes the nearlyunreachable idealism of the vision. Jesus said, “Love your enemies.” Hedidn’t say, “Your enemies will becomeyour friends and then you will find iteasy to love them.” Often our rooted-ness in one way of life or one set of attitudes keeps us from reaching out tothose who are different, those we haveavoided out of fear and hatred. To befruitful, we must be open to this sort of newness.Paul tells us Jesus fulfilled thecovenant of the Jews and brought avision of God’s mercy to the Gentiles.Paul’s gifts unite the dreams of thesetwo groups into one vision of Christianity. He doesn’t destroy healthydifferences, he doesn’t deny individualroots. He sees the possibility for com-munion. Advent is a time of vision, thevision of a shared future among allpeople as we grow beyond our rooted-ness.
Is 11:1-10
A prophet looks ahead to the reign of a new king.In his day the kingdom willbring to mind the Garden of Eden.
Rom 15:4-9
Paul proclaims the value of theScriptures.
Mt 3:1-12
 John the Baptist prepares the way of the Lord.
St.Anthony Messenger Press
Roots Aren’t Enough
By Diane M.Houdek 
December 9,2007

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