Readings: Is 40 1-5, 9-11; 2 Pt 3:8-14; Mk 1:1-8
Patience is an Advent virtue. This Sunday, the readings challenge us to wait for the Lord patiently. We could say that the readings draw our attention to the fact that God’s time is not our time. There is a story of a lucky man who struck a conversation with God! He asked God, "Lord, I have always wondered about your idea of time. What is a thousand years like for you?" God responded, "For me a thousand years is like a second." The man then asked, "What about money? What is a million dollars like for you?" And God answered, "For me a million dollars is like a penny." The man became eager and said, "Lord, could you give me just one penny?" God answered, "No problem, but you will have to wait for one second!" In the second reading, Peter's main point is patience. "With the Lord one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day." Patience means waiting, sacrificing some immediate gratification for the sake of a greater good. Impatience, on the other hand, is the unwillingness to wait, wanting it all right now. The prophet Isaiah in the first reading, after years in exile, prophecies a new dawn that is about to break in for God's people. The darkness of the Babylonian exile is about to end. The Lord will lead his people into freedom, but a messenger of the Lord is sent ahead to prepare a way for the Lord in the wilderness and to "make a straight highway for …God across the desert". These words refer to a call for a change of heart; for personal and communal transformation; they usher in an immanent liberation of God’s people.
In the Gospel, we hear that the inhabitants of Jerusalem go to John the Baptist to be baptized, and “they acknowledged their sins.” During this Advent season, we too are invited to examine our consciences in terms of patience and self-control. Almost every sin you can imagine touches on our lack of patience and self-control. For example, stealing or cheating are also sins of impatience and lack of self-control! Rather than working hard, a person grabs things or money from others; rather than working hard at school, a student cheats in the exams to get better grades. Patience and self-control are very basic virtues that imply self-discipline, hard work and sacrifice. It is not easy to wait patiently with self-discipline, but in the end it brings results. This brings us to reflect on the Advent wreath which was actually invented originally to teach us about patience. Each Sunday of Advent the candle lights increase by 25% until the last Sunday when all 4 candles are lit indicating the fullness of the true light at Christmas – the fifth candle. Advent therefore teaches us how to wait patiently with self-discipline for the fullness of the true light, Jesus Christ. The message may be summed up as follows: 1) God’s time is not our time, and therefore the need to be patient which implies self-control. 2) The Lord’s delay in coming gives us an opportunity to accept God’s invitation to personal conversion. 3) Advent is not only a season for preparation, but also for practicing our patience and self-discipline; patience with each other at home, at school and at work, and by God’s grace to resist our impatience. Think about it. I am Msgr. John Mbinda. God bless you.
©2014 John S. Mbinda