Fr. Tom Bartolomeo
Advent, a time to reflect and renew
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By Fr. Tom Bartolomeo
December 8, 2015

Confession is good for the soul, an opportunity to face denial and avoidance.

These psychological phenomena have no limits and affect all of us which the prophet, Simeon, predicted Jesus would confront:
    Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel and a sign of contradiction (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed," Luke 2:34.
Compromise is a popular notion of "go along to get along" and is for many the preferred bias. Had Jesus simply compromised with his adversaries perhaps he would not have been condemned to death had he not claimed he was a king and God. The great irony, however, had Jesus wavered and cooperated with the authorities, religious and secular, he would not have been crucified, have not died and risen from the dead breaking the cycle of eternal death and fulfilling his purpose in becoming man in the first place. Born to die?, you say. Yes, Christians live out the same irony. We live to die or as the Apostle Paul said, "Christ is life and death is gain" Philippians 1: 21. The Apostle then adds in his letter to the faithful, "I know I remain and continue with you for your progress and joy in the faith so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus," ibid. 1:24-26. Jesus explained this at his last evening with his disciples, "that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me," John 17:1.

We remain our "brother's keeper" or son or daughter or neighbor or co-worker or stranger among others in our churches. Next May I will have been a priest of the Lord ten years and wish I had accomplished more particularly for young people. My greatest obstacle has been confronting the fear of controversy, be "nice" and offend no one although Christ as prophesied offended many people including his Apostles not out of disdain but love. Recall, Jesus' rebuke of Peter, "Get behind me Satan." I was once told by a bishop to avoid controversy, again, "be nice" which is sadly how too many priests and bishops have been. Even some parents are fearful they may alienate their children which can only occur if parents have not established a really human and engaged relationship with their own children. Why, for instance, do many teens and young adults not go to Sunday Mass because they find it "boring"? How many parents – to tell the truth – find the Mass "boring" themselves but do their duty anyhow? The memorial of Jesus' life, the Mass, plays out in detail the lives we live throughout the week or boredom ensues.

Now the last thing I want to do is rant. The passage to salvation and the love of God is our vocation not a hobby or an hour's exercise in Church on Sunday. Personally, I do not know why I have been so blessed in a faith-filled education and environment from my childhood which I would wish for every child I meet today. The precursor of Jesus, John the Baptist, and Jesus himself began their ministries with the same exhortation, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." We are all called to daily repentance, "do-overs" until we get it right and why we begin again this Advent 2016. In Jesus' words, "those who have ears to hear ought to hear."

Advent literally means "coming to," a season of preparation for Christmas. His was completed in his resurrection and ascension into heaven. Our advent continues.

© Fr. Tom Bartolomeo

 

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Fr. Tom Bartolomeo

I am the founder and director of the Families For Families Retreat House, a refuge for anyone who wants to rethink his or her life in a quiet non-demanding environment in an historic house c.1709 when life was less complicated. I am also and primarily a Catholic priest having been a college and university teacher, business-owner and executive among other things. I received my Bachelor's and Master's degrees in English literature from Saint John's University, Jamaica, New York and completed post-graduate studies at Kansas State University. Contact me at FatherTomSays@gmail.com.

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