“Be patient, brothers and sisters, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains… be patient. Make your hearts firm, because the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not complain… about one another, that you may not be judged. Take as an example of hardship and patience… the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.” – James 5:7-10
As you know well, one of the spiritual lessons of the season of Advent is patience. We recall in salvation history how many centuries ago our forefathers, our brothers and sisters in the faith, long awaited a Messiah, a Christ, a Redeemer, a “Deliverer” from the oppression of the world and of the devil, and of the political powers that often unjustly crushed their hope and spirits.
The prophets, including Isaiah, countered this oppression with words of courage, hope and impending victory: “Be strong, fear not! Here is your God, he comes with vindication, with divine recompense he comes to save you!” (Is. 35: 1-6, 10.) Most of the ones who heard these words never saw the Christ, but they still patiently believed with an ardent faith and a confident hope.
On a practical note, as we approach Christmas Day that is merely 10 days away we will likely find many opportunities to be patient with one another. What happens when we become impatient? St. James tells us: we tend to complain, especially about one another. He even warns that we may be judged upon our words.
When we complain about another, we often take a position of judgment. Yet only God is the ultimate judge, our Christ. We can be tempted to complain and judge all the time, whether driving in rush hour traffic, waiting in a long line at the supermarket, during Christmas shopping, fighting frustration in a stressful family or home situation, or in a challenging workplace or at school. The antidote is twofold.
First, show kindness in return. When we are tempted to use our tongue for cursing, bless with it instead. Take a deep breath, say a little prayer and give a “God bless you.”
Second, show gratitude. The more we reflect on our blessings – how indeed we are blessed in so many ways, many times over – it increases our gratitude and makes kindness so much easier.
May God bless you with the graces of Advent patience, kindness, gratitude, courage, hope and peace.
For more on Advent in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, click here.