So we’ve been waiting around for our child to be born all weekend. After a few rumblings, we waited in expectation all Saturday to hit the road to the hospital and then…nothing. While happy to get a full night of sleep, the active waiting is exhausting. Then we happen to realize that the season of Advent here provides more than enough commentary and imagery on the human reality of waiting in expectation for something great.
The homily today happened to be about patience and how so many sins we engage in (anger in traffic, theft in cheating or plagiarism, or lust in pornography and fornication), often also have impatience as a common root. It fascinated us but made total sense. We want what we want and want it immediately gratified. If we perceive that God doesn’t have our best interests at hand, why not take it for ourselves?
It’s much more difficult to wait in trusting patience on God’s timing, but we know that grasping always leads to unhappiness. Mary’s tremendous “yes” to God’s plan was a rejection of the self-absorbed egoism that rules our day and instead modeled the abandonment into divine providence we’re all called to, and that abandonment calls for supernatural patience. It’s not easy. Time is our most precious resource. Do we trust God with it? And are we ready to move if he calls?
The second reading today from the third chapter of 2nd Peter contains these timely words:
“Do not ignore this one fact, beloved,
that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years
and a thousand years like one day.
That is enough to hurt one’s head. We only experience life within time, so trying to contemplate God, who is outside of time, should melt your brain. Embrace the mystery. And take note:
The Lord does not delay his promise, as some regard “delay,”
but he is patient with you,
not wishing that any should perish
but that all should come to repentance.”
God knows the full picture in his mysterious and omniscient way. If we place our trust in him, we can see how delays and detours and even surprises work for our betterment and his glory.
Still, we want what we want and we want it now. Maybe it’s for the priest to end the homily, or for a baby to emerge, or for a job promotion to open up, or maybe we have no idea what we’re looking towards… we just experience that sense of longing in realizing that this world can never satisfy the deepest desires we possess. Redirect that longing to God. God works on his timetable, not on ours.
“Be watchful! Be alert!”
How exhausting it would be to go through life constantly on edge, hospital bag by the door, watching for any and all signs of imminent childbirth. Yet the call of the Christian is to be constantly “on-edge,” remembering what God has done, being available to the present moment where he is moving, and awaiting his return. Many today likely think that the second coming of Christ is like a fairy tale, something once discussed but not to be taken seriously. But Christ, his apostles, and his Church are deadly serious. Being ready and vigilant, for we know neither the time nor the hour of our passing or God’s return, is part of the Christian walk.
Amongst many of the joyful priests and sisters we’ve met, many claim that the vow of obedience is the toughest, even beyond celibacy. To not have a final say over where you are going in life, or where you’ll be assigned, or when you must move, is tremendously difficult. And yet it prompts the person to always be ready to go when called. As disciples of Christ, we must also be pilgrims ready to walk the next mile for God and for our neighbor.
This world is not our home. Be ready to go. Hospital bag and all.
“Jesus said to his disciples: “Be watchful! Be aleart! You do not know when the time will come.” -Mark 13