The light shines brightest in the darkness. That’s what I thought recently when I read about Jamie Schmidt, a 53-year-old Catholic wife and mother of three, who sang in her church choir at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in High Ridge, MO. By all accounts Ms. Schmidt was a quiet soul. One of her fellow parishioners described her as “very simple, very modest, very quiet. If you ever needed help, she would be there.” On Monday, November 19, 2018, Ms. Schmidt stopped by a local Catholic supply store, perhaps to buy supplies to make rosaries for fellow parishioners, when the unthinkable happened. A gunman entered the store and herded Ms. Schmidt and two other women into a back room. He ordered them to undress, then began raping the women. When he attempted to force himself on Ms. Schmidt, she refused, so the assailant shot her in the head. She died of her wound later that day. This modern-day martyr reminds us that there are saints among us, who will shine like the stars in glory.
On this first Sunday in Advent, the second reading at Mass encourages us “to be blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his holy ones (1 Thes. 3:13). Advent focuses our attention in two directions: back to the first coming of Christ, which we celebrate on Christmas, and forward to his Second Coming, when “he will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,” as we confess in the Nicene Creed. In the Gospel reading for today, Jesus warns us: “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap” (Luke 21:34). As the disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane, we are to watch and pray. If we do this, we too can become lights in the darkness.