“Be patient until the coming of the Lord” (James 5:7)
Be patient! Easier said than done, to be sure. But, what an essential call for us all from James. His call here gets at the heart of this season of Advent and indeed of our life in faith with the Lord and one another. Truly, life is bigger than this one moment. So, be patient, for the Lord is not done with us yet! This season of Advent is a time for preparing the way for Jesus even more in our lives. By implication, this calls us to become more open to the Lord and to recognize our need for more patience in doing this, for we continue to be slow learners in all this. In the midst of all the busy-ness of life, let us learn to be more patient!
Be patient! For us the virtue of patience remains hard to take to heart. How impatient we can become awaiting patience itself. All things are so busy we want it all now, but such is not life. Patience is not about “holding our breaths” until something happens, so to speak, but being involved in the midst of the heart of life with the Lord as this life unfolds. For any who may see being patient as “waiting” for something to happen, know we do not do so well at waiting either - just notice your reactions to the lines at stores this season especially. And, this is just as true in our relationship with God? Did you ever catch yourself saying – “I’ve been asking for you? So, where are you?” Did it ever occur to you that we are likely the ones who have taken a long time to even notice the Lord is right here with us? God is not “out there” but “right here with us” waiting for us to open the door for him.
We are truly slow learners. As we celebrate Advent, let us prepare to open ourselves even more to the birth and life of the Lord among us. Let us “prepare the way” for him. Let us learn to be more open to the Lord and more patient no matter how long it takes us to notice – indeed, this may be one of our most needed gifts this season. So, instead of just asking the Lord for more “things”, ask him to help us become more patient – even with ourselves?
Too often we want to experience the “conclusion” rather than “walk the walk” through the present towards its conclusion. We often forget that we are slow learners and even when we do learn something, we often may not notice how long it takes us to believe what we just learned or experienced and/or take it to heart. When it comes to important topics, studies have shown that it may well take us at least seven times to truly hear what another is saying. How long do you suppose it takes us to hear God speak to us (especially when we may not like what he might say)?
So where is God? Where is the Son who is born to us? Where is the Lord who walks with us - even when we do not notice him? Actually, the Lord is right here with us and we simply do not see or hear him at times. Advent is a good invitation to open our eyes, ears and hearts to the presence of the Lord even more, and not simply time to wrap all the presents, decorate our trees and houses, and cook all our meals (as good as all that is). We all need patience so that we may be more open to the Lord. Can you imagine how many folks were in Bethlehem when Jesus was born? After all, it was census time and all were travelling to their roots – there was not even room at the inn for them. And yet, it was only Mary & Joseph, a few shepherds and several wise folks from another country who even noticed Jesus’ birth. Advent often leads us to make many lists – let us also make a list of what we need to let go of so that this Christmas might be an even deeper revelation of the presence of Jesus among us! Know that God is patient with us, even if we are not with him. As slow as we are in allowing him into our lives more, what love God has for us to patiently walk with us, and slowly but surely continue to try and open us up to his life and truth even more. With the Lord’s grace, let us learn to be more patient – no matter how long it takes us to get there.
Fr. John E. Krumm is the Pastor of St. Brigid Catholic Church in Xenia and guest columnist.