by Fr. Vin Kevin Ferrer
A person who knows how to be patient is a joyful person.
I once read an article about increasing one’s patience. It tells of 5 Ways to increase your patience. In no particular order it suggests the following: laugh at yourself, chew your food slowly, find a distraction, experience different cultures, and stop imagining the ideal. The suggestions are understandable, practical, and I could say simple enough. But that last one, that tells me to stop imagining the ideal, made me think again.
I know it’s about being realistic and focusing on the here and now and that’s great. However, my advent reflections are telling me to look beyond the here and now. This Sunday’s first reading from the Book of Isaiah, speaks to an exiled people about an ‘ideal’ future, a scene as if drawn from a fairytale except it isn’t. Isaiah gives them a promise from God that someday all things will be different in a radical way that the desert will bloom with flowers, the lame, the mute, the deaf, and the blind will be healed, they will return to Jerusalem with joy and gladness, and there will be no more sorrow and sadness.
After Isaiah, it took around 700 years before the coming of Christ. Did the Israelites grow impatient thinking constantly of the promise? Some of them did and turned to idol worship. But those who patiently waited in faith, found joy and consolation in thinking of the promise.
John the Baptist, the last and the greatest among the prophets, also patiently waited in the desert all the while preparing the way of the Lord by preaching repentance and baptizing people in the Jordan. He spent his whole life waiting for the Messiah, convinced that he will come. Imagine his joy when Jesus finally came and confirmed his expectation.
This day is called Gaudete Sunday- a day of joy. Gaudete means rejoice. We rejoice today because Christmas is near. We rejoice today because we know that Christ has already come. We rejoice because he comes to us in the Eucharistic table, he comes to us in the poor, and he will come again at the end of time to judge the living and the dead.
Christ, as the fulfillment of the promise, is the ideal. The catechism tells us that He is “the true ideal of man.” He proclaims to us that the Kingdom of God is at hand! Moreover, he tells us: the Kingdom of God is among you!
As we continue our journey this advent season, let us find joy in being patient because God is always true to his promise. More than chewing your food slowly, finding a distraction, of laughing at yourself, start imagining the ideal to grow more patient. Jesus Christ has come and he will come again, he is the ideal, he shows us how to love. And, more than simply imagining the ideal, “Let us go rejoicing and follow Christ!”