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Third Week of Advent

James 5:7-10 & Mt. 11:2-11.

Waiting can sometimes be one of the hardest things in life. If we are expecting something bad to happen, we want it to be over and done with quickly. If we're expecting something good, we are impatient for it to happen.

A classic example of the latter is a small child anxiously awaiting Christmas. How eager and impatient he is. Every hour seems like a day, every day like a week. We who are older are pleasantly amused by the impatience of the young. What about ourselves? We have to learn to wait. Life, to a certain extent, unfolds at its own pace, for some things cannot be hurried.

In our First Reading from the letter of Saint James, we find this very pointed and practical advice, "Be patient, brothers, until the Lord's coming." Then he proceeds to use the farmer as an example of what he means. Farming is a combination of working and waiting - and it takes both to make a crop. A farmer who did nothing but wait would be a miserable failure. The ground has to be prepared and ploughed; seeds must be sown; and the field must be regularly weeded. Nature must play her part as the farmer waits for the rain to fall, the sun to shine, the seed to germinate, and the crop to grow and ripen. Only then will the harvest be ready for him to gather.

Working and waiting - that is what life is all about. Some things we work for, like preparing the ground; other things we wait for, like the harvest. We need to know when to work and when to wait! And waiting demands patience.

Let's see how this applies to our own lives. The person who is impatient with himself is like a farmer who sows the seed today and expects a crop tomorrow. Life doesn't work that way on the farm or in the human heart. Becoming a whole and healthy person requires working and waiting. Strength of character does not happen overnight. The Bible tells us that even Jesus grew in wisdom and grace before God and man. Our Lord spent approximately 30 years in Nazareth preparing Himself for His public mission. That demanded patience because He must have longed to begin telling people that the Kingdom of God was at hand. We too have to practice patience, knowing when to work and when to wait.

We must also be patient with others. What right have we to demand that people move at the speed we dictate? We most certainly would not like that demand to be made of us. We also have to learn to be patient with other people's faults. Again, what right have we to demand that they change their way of life immediately? God is patient with our faults and gives us time to rectify them, so we should give others time. So let us be patient with ourselves and patient to all those around us.

Finally, we must learn to be patient with God. This has to be said because we tend to be impatient with Him. We look at our world and see the mess that it is in. We see people who have more than they need, while others starve. We see crime and corruption. We see war and violence. Although we may not say it out loud, nevertheless, we wonder 'Why doesn't God do something?'

Lord Jesus, our heavenly Father is at work in our world, but not to our standards nor our timetable. We can be sure that things are unfolding according to His plan. His purposes will be accomplished. Our part is to join in His work, do what we can, and patiently leave the rest to God.

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