Patience! We have Gaudate and Letare Sudays that proclaim, ‘Rejoice!’ In the Anglican Church the last Sunday before Advent tells us, ‘Stir Up’. But none of our liturgies begin by saying, ‘Paciencia’, Patience.
As we begin our final full week before Lent this could be its invitation or admonition. We have no hints of spring yet, in fact most of the country continues to feel the icy grip of winter. Only the steady march of the calendar shows us the days of winter are lessening. Patience.
Our first reading today begins the beautiful story of creation, but Lent is only eight weekday readings away. We will arrive at Noah’s preparation to build the ark before we give way to the specially selected readings of Lent. In fact we will not come back to Genesis in our daily readings. But after the joy of creation, the sadness of the fall and its echo among the children of Adam and Eve, we will be awakened in the darkness of the Easter Vigil, reminded of the ‘happy fault’ of our first parents in the garden, and hear creation recreated in the Risen Christ. Be patient.
Today Mark is in transition. He recalls Jesus, miracles. Our Lord has come to proclaim the Kingdom not only in Word but also in Deed. We see the future when the disciples will go as missionaries doing the words and deeds of Jesus. Patiently the disciples are learning. Like them we too are always being schooled in our missionary calling.
There are times when Jesus seems impatient. He will say that he came to light a fire and how he wishes the blaze were ignited; that he has a baptism to receive, and what anguish he feels till it is over (Lk 12:49). Listening and discerning the Father’s will invites our patience. Maybe we hear Our Lord’s patience being expressed through gritted teeth?
Lent will call forth patience as we work its rich program and see how clever is the Spirit orchestrating in our personal lives, the lives of our families, friends and coworkers, and in the Church and beyond the unfolding of Salvation among us. Patience here is definitely called for so that we are receptive to the seeds of grace and let them germinate and sprout. Beginning this week we might think of ‘Patience’ as we are treated only to the beginning of Genesis, meet the Syro-Phoenician woman and a man who is deaf and mute, and hear the feeding of the four thousand. These days invite us to wait with patience because we are moving to the light, step by graced step, that will enable us understand the Pharisees’ desire for signs and find answers to the questioning of the disciples.
Fr. William Murphy, CP is the pastor of Immaculate Conception parish in Jamaica, New York.