Monday, December 7, 2020

Advent’s waiting isn’t just something that is experienced by us. God too is waiting.

Patience, as we all know, is a virtue.  Impatient people tend to display among other traits, short-temperedness and an unwillingness to suffer fools easily.  They want things to be done quickly, and to be done their way. Patient people are able to curtail these shortcomings and as a result, tend to have a personality that is genial, socially acceptable and are less hard to get along with than their impatient counterparts.


God, because he is God, doesn’t have flaws or shortcomings.  He is perfect love, perfect beauty and is truth itself, as Hans Urs von Balthasar’s masterwork in theological tome “The Glory of the Lord” takes pains to elaborate and illustrate.  


Now if God is perfect, and indeed he is, then together with God being the perfect lover and being truth itself, God is also perfect in the virtue of patience.  Of course, I am equating our human notion of virtue with the divine aspect of virtue, which may in itself be a little problematic, but we do need some anthropomorphism in order to flesh out what I am mooting in this reflection.


One of Advent’s perennial themes that always get airplay at this time of the year is the theme of patience or waiting.  As human beings, we struggle a lot with this.  Hardly anyone is naturally born with a healthy ability to wait well.  We see this intolerance with waiting evidenced even in newborn infants who just won’t stop bawling their tiny lungs out because they can’t wait to be fed or held close to the mother’s breast.  Somehow, hardwired into the human psyche (which is faulty through original sin) is that it wants the world to orbit around the self and the ego. Patience, though it is a virtue, is something that needs to be nurtured and learned, and like anything that requires growth, doesn’t happen overnight.  


So we are encouraged during the Advent season to develop a desire to want to cultivate patience.  Most of all, it is patience for God to present himself in our lives.  For sure, we do require patience for Christmas to come on December 25th, but more than just the celebration of the historic arrival of God-becoming man in the incarnation event, our spiritual lives require of us to acquire a heart that is willing to wait for God to manifest himself and his will in our lives.  It is when we are good ‘waiters’ that we can spot him when he appears, albeit in a hidden form, in our loved ones, in those who we consider our ‘enemies’, and in those who tend to make life challenging for us.  


But it isn’t only we who are waiting in our lives.  I think we very easily fail to realise that God too is waiting. He not only waits at Advent, but also has been waiting ever since Adam and Eve, his beloved creation whom he made out of love and for love, decided to willfully disobey and live for themselves, causing them to end up being cast out of Eden.  He had been waiting for them to be redeemed and to be restored once more to his embrace.  He had been waiting for humanity to realise that their greatest delight and fulfillment would be when they are fully in heaven.  


Our Advent waiting tells us that we are now living in between the two comings of Christ, where the first coming was at the incarnation and the second would be when he comes in glory to judge the living and the dead.  God’s waiting also has a similar two dimension, where his first waiting was fulfilled at Mary’s yes at her annunciation.  In fact, all of humanity and all of heaven was waiting in great anticipation for her generous fiat, which paved the way for the incarnation to take place.  When those beautiful words of “let it be done to me according to your Word” was uttered by our blessed Mother, God’s first waiting was over.  His divine plan to enter into the world, in a hidden form of a helpless and tiny babe, located in some rural Roman occupied outpost in Bethlehem kicked into high gear.  


But God’s waiting isn’t over yet.  Even with the glorious ascension of Jesus to his Father’s right hand in heaven, God is now waiting.  Yes, right now, even as your eyes read these words on whatever device you are receiving this blog reflection on, God is waiting for your response to his reaching out to you in grace.  He is waiting for your wanting to live your life in a holy way that shows you are truly desirous of heaven and all that your baptism promises.  He is waiting for your ‘yes’ to being another Christ as you live out your day that could see you being asked to be more forgiving, more patient, more charitable in your deeds and thoughts, less critical of those who you deem to be lesser beings than yourself, and to find offensive the same things that God finds offensive, and find delightful in the things that give God the glory he deserves.  


Advent is indeed a time of waiting, but we don’t wait well.  God, however, has showed so much restraint in displaying his wrath when we are so deserving of recrimination for our numerous and repeated sins.  Thank God for his divine patience with us.



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