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  A Christian Faith Magazine December 2003, Volume 9, Issue 5  
Fourth Sunday of Advent
Rev. Mark Connolly
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Fourth Week of Advent

When you look at all the beautiful articles written about the season of Advent, you go back to wonderful quotations, say from the historian Arnold Toynbee who called the event of the birth of Christ the greatest event in the history of civilization. When you read a very un-Christian personality such as Sigmund Freud, he said, "If Christians really knew what the spirit of Advent and the meaning of Christmas was all about, they would do everything humanly possible to prolong the spirit of the event called the birth of Christ.!" When you read Fr. J. Hart, he said, on this occasion, God Christed the world with his only son."

And yet, when you come right down to it, for all of us, as we approach the beautiful day we call Christmas, one of the most fascinating expressions we have concerning the meaning of Christmas was that which was given to us by St. Francis of Assisi when he said, "Each one of us at every season, should try to be an instrument of peace."

During this season of Advent, and during the time remaining until the birth of Christ, each one of us should strive to be an instrument of peace with those with whom we live and work.

Just three simple ideas: How? First, by developing the spirit of forgiveness similar to the spirit of forgiveness that Christ gave to us when he walked this earth. The spirit of forgiveness in our relationship with others that says, I am willing to forgive you 70 X 7 times. The spirit of forgiveness based on the teachings of Christ where he said, "If you are at odds with your brother, before you come to the altar to place your gifts, go first and be reconciled with your brother." Christmas is the time to remind all of us that we follow a Christ who preferred to carry a cross than to carry a grudge.

The next quality that should be uppermost in our minds if we want to be an instrument of peace between now and Christmas, is the spirit of compassion. It is sad when you. recognize all the tragedies that are around us almost every day of our lives. But, it is most sad, especially at Christmas, when you recognize that there are hundreds of thousands of elderly people who have no one who will say hello, no one who will send them a Christmas card, no one who will invite them out to Christmas dinner, no one who will bring the spirit of compassion into their lives. You can bring that spirit of compassion into the lives of those who are just a short distance from where you live.

The last ingredient that is so necessary from the standpoint of being an instrument of peace based on the teachings of Christ is the spirit of charity. When you recognize that it was Jesus Christ who said, "By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another as I have love for you." That is the criterion that Christ gave to each one of us, so that we could bring this kind of charity into the lives of those with whom we work and those with whom we live. There is a tremendous poverty of charity in the lives of many people, and you can take the ache of poverty by supplying your own personal charity to those who are in want and those who are in need.

Those are the ingredients that should be uppermost in our minds. I would like to take this time to thank you, our readers, for enabling us to be instrument of peace. Because of your tremendous support, you have enabled us to bring the gospel of Christ into many homes. We have tried to bring the spirit of charity and the spirit of compassion to all of you, and for allowing us that opportunity, we thank you most sincerely.

Remember that we need your prayers. We have to, in our apostolates, bring the spirit of forgiveness, bring the spirit of charity, bring the spirit of compassion, to the lives of those whom God asks us to help and with those with whom God asks us to work. We pray for you constantly. And we ask that you remember us during this coming Christmas in a special way in your prayers and that all of us in our own way have a very beautiful and a very merry Christmas. God Bless You.

Gift of Time

Take time to laugh, to hug, to cry.
Take time to wish, to dream, to hope.
Take time to wonder, to reflect, to remember.
Take time to talk, to listen, to share.
Time is a gift.
Take time for loving this Christmas.

- Judith A. Lindberg

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