PATIENCE IN AN INSTANT-COFFEE WORLD
Third Sunday of Advent (A)
My dear encountered couples:
Be patient, my children. Christmas will soon be here. To little children, Christmas seems a long time in coming. The dreams of little children are filled, not with sugar plums dancing on their heads, but with the vision of many presents under a brightly trimmed and shining tree. The excitement of the season is approaching, but not fast enough for many of our little ones.
How about us old fogies? Are we excited about Christmas? Are you beside yourself with anticipation of all the wonderful things you are going to get? (Of all the wonderful things you’re going to get bills for?) Whether we look forward to Christmas or not, we all, I would wager, have at one time or other in our lives thought Christmas was much too slow in coming. As little children it seems to be slower than a turtle crossing the street. Patience in waiting is very, very hard to practice. But we waited, patiently or not.
But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do anything but just sit and wait. We all know much more good can happen if we do something in preparation f or what we are waiting for. Christmas will of course come. But it won’t be half as enjoyable if we don’t get the house and ourselves ready for it. Ever dream it was Christmas Day and you forgot to buy any presents or a tree - and all the stores were closed? And there were no more trees? Ever dream it was late Christmas afternoon and you suddenly remember you forgot to go to Mass? Such a Christmas dream would be more like a nightmare. But there are many more things in life to prepare f or, many more things in life to be patient about. Christmas is only one of them.
Couples in love have to be patient while waiting for their wedding day. Then as husbands and wives they must practice patience towards each other for the rest of their lives. A marriage of two people into one is said to take place on their wedding day. But let me tell you this. It takes many years and a heck of a lot of patience before two people ever really become one in mind and heart. Parents have to be patient while they wait for their baby to be born. And then they have to be patient many times over while waiting for their baby to grow up.
Children must learn to be patient with their parents too. Parents aren’t perfect, in case you children haven’t discovered that. This is their first attempt at raising you. It takes them time and mistakes to get the hang of it. That takes patience on your part as well as theirs. Children need a lot of patience for year after year of school and study. It takes a lot of hard work for many years to get that diploma.
The saints of the past are our greatest examples of patience. They had to wait and wait for that great day they always dreamed about - the day when they would live in heaven with God whom they loved more than anyone or anything. Their patience eventually paid off, hard as it was. Patience is a requirement for all of us. And that is not easy in our instant-coffee world.
We are now preparing f or Christmas. Let us hope we are also preparing for heaven. If we aren’t, we will find ourselves left out. If we aren’t ready to enter heaven when our time comes, the day of our departure into eternity might be much worse than any Christmas dream about not having bought any gifts or a tree. It could be the nightmare of all nightmares. Yes, we must prepare for heaven. And a good portion of that preparation involves patience - with ourselves and with each other.
Most of us are slow learners, slow developers. Because we all make mistakes we have to repeat many lessons over and over before we finally learn. Maybe many things we never really ever finally learn. How many things have you forgotten that you once learned and now have to learn all over again? That takes patience with yourself. Being good little boys and girls, whether because Santa is coming to town or because Jesus tells us to, requires a lot of patience. We tend to be bad. We tend to give into temptations. We even tend to seek temptations. We tend to sin. Not just once, but over and over. I’ll let you in on a secret. People become saints, not because they never sin, but because they never give up on themselves. With patience and God’s help they keep trying.
WITH EACH OTHER
We must be very patient with each other for the same reasons we must be patient with ourselves. Most of us, if not all, are slow learners, slow developers. And those we love, those we try to teach will never grow, will never learn and develop unless we give them time and space. Unless we give them our patience - or God’s patience - whatever patience it takes. Many a child, many an adult has been discouraged by the impatience of others, especially of those in their own families. The people you live with need your patience. And you need theirs. Anyhow, what’s the rush? Why are we all in such a hurry? Growth takes time. Physical, psychological, and moral growth require a lot of time.
Listen to what James tells us in his letter: “Be patient, my brothers and sisters, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer awaits the precious yield of the soil. He looks forward to it patiently while the soil receives the winter and the spring rains. You too, must be patient. Steady your hearts, because the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another lest you be condemned. See! The judge stands at the gate. As your models in suffering hardships and in patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.”
Life takes time, it requires a series of experiences in order for us to develop properly. That means patience - with ourselves, with each other. Also with God. God will make of you what he wishes to make of you, if you let him, in his own good time. Be patient, my children, Christmas will soon be here. And so will your heaven.