Isaiah 35:1-6a, 10
Be patient, brothers and sisters, until the coming of the Lord.
Patience is one of those tough virtues. Especially at this time of the year when life seems to go into hyper-drive. Students are strung out because of finals. Holiday shoppers are rushing to finish their purchases. Diminishing light leaves people more susceptible to depression and grumpiness. Winter weather tends to snarl up our plans. In the midst of all these distractions we are called to patience.
Be patient. This is the word for the 3rd Sunday of Advent.
On the first Sunday of Advent we heard the admonition to Stay Awake and be Prepared.
On the 2nd Sunday of Advent we were instructed to Repent. The Kingdom of God is near.
Today. Be patient.
And what for, exactly? Notice that the letter of James ties patience to the coming of the Lord. The coming of the Lord is in the sacraments when the Church worships. The coming of the Lord is at the end of our lives when we die and then are judged. And the coming of the Lord is at the end of time when he returns again in glory. Our patience is tied to the events of the coming of the Lord.
How do we practice this patience?
I suggest that the practice of patience is supported by the instructions we have received in the previous two Sundays. Stay awake. Be Prepared. Repent. Practicing these instructions helps us to wait for the coming of the Lord. I’ll take this moment to remind the assembly that we are celebrating the sacrament of penance next Thursday in a special liturgy. If you haven’t gone to confession yet – this will be a great opportunity. Stay awake and be prepared. Repent. Be patient.
James said that in order to wait patiently we need to make our hearts firm. Making our hearts firm means that we know what we believe and that we stick to it. For example, if you believe that you love someone, then you stick to it, no matter what. Love doesn’t quit. In like manner, patiently waiting for the Lord means you know your faith in the Lord and you stick to it. Do you know your faith in the Lord? More or less? Make your heart firm. Grow in knowledge of your faith and stick to it.
James also said this: do not complain about one another, that you may not be judged. Here is a great way to practice patience. Make your home, your car, and your workplace free of complaining about one another. No whining, complaining, criticisms, negative talk, or gossip.
Now, this one is tough. We human beings love to complain. Started when we learned to pout at age 2 ½ and then just got more sophisticated with age. But we all know the results of complaining about each other. We get angry with each other and then we have distrust, divisions, dissentions, and on and on it goes. Have we been there before? It’s never good, is it. Listen to St. James. Don’t complain about each other.
Too hard a habit to break? Try this as a habit breaker. Put a think rubber band around your wrist. Every time you complain, snap the rubber band.
Some of us are already thinking about the blisters we’d get. But after they heal I bet the level of complaining in the community would dramatically decline.
Make your hearts firm. Don’t complain about each other.
Stay awake and be prepared.
All of this has a purpose. Remember, we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Because the coming of the Lord is drawing near. It’s coming. When it happens the words of the prophet Isaiah will be fulfilled when he said:
“Those whom the Lord has ransomed will return and enter Zion singing, crowned in everlasting joy; they will meet with joy and gladness, sorrow and mourning will flee.”
So, my good people, for the time being:
Stay awake and be prepared
Be patient - waiting in joyful hope for the coming of our savior, Jesus Christ.