“Patience, people. Steady your hearts for God is close at hand…do not grumble against one another…”
How’s your ‘patience’ factor during these busy pre-Christmas days? Waiting is difficult, no matter what age we are. A child anticipates the destination of a family vacation or Christmas morning with the same edgy approach: “Are we there (here) yet?!” However, our waiting incapacity may only intensify with age, especially as the lines for assistance in department stores get longer. There are also key times when patience is hard to come by, such as the urgent - “I can’t stand the ‘not knowing’ whether I got into the school (job) that I want,” or the very poignant - “Will we ever be able to conceive (or adopt) a child?”
Today’s scriptures offer two decisive approaches to the idea of waiting. In the first reading, Isaiah is encouraging Ahaz (Judah’s leader) to trust that God is with Judah even though things are presently going very badly for their army. Though invited to ask God for any sign as proof of God’s faithfulness, Ahaz chooses to not recognize God’s ability to prove faithfulness to the people of Judah. Instead of continuing to trust God’s presence, Ahaz would rather rely on the powerful army of the Assyrians to bring about victory (in the NOW!!!)
On the other hand, Mary encounters the angel Gabriel. Gabriel’s visit challenges everything that Mary knows…she is being asked to shift gears…to trust God, that all is ‘OK’, all the while realizing that God wishes her to conceive a child and to name him ‘Jesus’ (deliverance). Talk about turning one’s own timetable/expectations upside down!!! Gabriel responds to Mary’s reasonable query, “How can this be since I do not know man?” with unbelievable news: “Your aging cousin, Elizabeth, is in her sixth month of pregnancy.” God can do all things.
Mary’s response? “I am God’s servant. Let it be done as you say.” Mary gives her permission - Mary trusts in God’s presence. Mary hasn’t got a clue how to go beyond this moment with the people she knows and loves, but she is ready to take the leap of faith and count on God to be present and to lead the way.
We are not asked to surrender our God-given intelligence, talents, hopes, or abilities to integrate God into our lives, …to trust in God. However, we are asked to trust that God will be with us in whatever comes along, and that waiting for clearer vision, reality checking, or working toward resolutions to our dilemmas may take some time.
So, the next time we’re with some one who seems over anxious, can we sit with them and wait? Can we sit and wait ourselves? Can we feel the sense of not being in control and yet having the ability to live into the promise if we recognize God’s presence with us?
Do we accept God’s sign of promise in those who walk with us, or
who are willing to be with us in our anxieties? Can we open to God’s
waiting in and with us? Can we have ‘patience, people’ during these
wonder-filled days of Advent?
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