Monday of the Tenth Week In Ordinary Time
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain, and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him. He began to teach them, saying: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven…”
I can see a common thread woven throughout the beatitudes. This thread is a long lost virtue. It is the virtue of patience. Remember that? Do you remember what it felt like to be patient towards others; with yourself; and during trying moments? If you are like me, then probably not!
Be patient! Well, I think it’s time we rediscover the virtue of patience. The irony of it all is that the sooner we become patient the better off we are, for patient people are not held hostage by time but use their time well.
The Lord’s beatitudes are openly hopeful and patiently latent: “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land. Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied…”
Our society (aka: our media) does not value patience at all! We are a “now” society, and for this reason we have become a “thrill seeking”, “scandal ready” society. We are patiently waiting for the next scandal to burst while ignoring the long term (and mounting) societal failures that will eventually come to roost.
We can see this in the way the media reports the news. It quickly picks up and colors the covers of magazines with the sudden birth of a new teen star; the luck of a lottery winner; and the marriage of the first homosexual couple that took place in Massachusetts; while it quietly drops all coverage of the latest child star gone wild, the disastrous end of a lottery winner, and the end of the first homosexual marriage that took place in Massachusetts.
Of course the media drools at the rise in the number of non-believers and the loss of religious fervor, while wiping its mouth on the negative and long term impact that these realities will have on society in general.
The media understands immediate success because it thrives on it. What they don’t care much about are long term failures. What they don’t understand is that Christians don’t care much about immediate success, for they are certain of long term victory!
Recently, I read that the New Atheism (aka: militant atheism) is being replaced by another type of atheism, the one that actually respects religion. How funny! How sudden. The founders of the New Atheism aren’t even dead (except for Christopher Hitchens) and they are already being replaced! Patience my people…patience.
Be patient. Are there any lessons to be learned before we move on to the next lucky winner, or child star or societal novelty? I think there are. Now I will admit that failures do come to light and are often highlighted by Hollywood, but only if they are followed by success. Only then do we consider this (their) story worth telling. In the meantime, it’s best not to repeat it at all. Let’s not ruin the surprise for so many others, even at the expense of another generation.
The problem with patience is that we often do not see the benefits of it, even while we’re repeating the same mistakes over and over again. We don’t see the good it does us because we are a very short-sighted people. We see conflict as something that should be avoided…at all cost. We see the war on evil as something that should be surrendered, especially over the Spring or Summer Break. We don’t see the benefit of taking some time in planning and setting goals, even while we endure difficult and trying moments.
St. Paul understood the value of patience because He understood the value of the Incarnation: God becoming a baby and growing up. He understood the value of a long term plan: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all encouragement, who encourages us in our every affliction, so that we may be able to encourage those who are in any affliction…” (2Cor 1:1-7)
The Church is not run by practical and efficient folks. It is run by God, who is very impractical and highly inefficient. Are you surprised? Well, you must have forgotten that love is not practical or efficient; it is patient. No wonder why it has endured over two thousand years of human history!
On the other hand, America has become a nation of very practical and highly efficient people. We are also a very sick people as well. And we are sick because we are surrounded by impatient people. “I need to know now! “I gotta have it today.” “What’s your answer?” “What will it be?” “You have an hour to think about it.” “Where are you?” Because we are surrounded by impatient people, we too suffer from it…and all the consequences due to it as well.
Even our kids suffer from a lack of patience. To them, “right now” is the only moment in time that is of any significance. “Why can’t I go?” “When will you let me go?” “I’m fifteen and someone should love me by now!” “I’m old enough now to know.”
Of course our lack of patience with time and with others overflows into our relationship with God: “Where are you?” “Why are you doing this to me?” “That’s it! I’m done with you!”
Growing up is a blessing. We do not go from a 1-year-old to 30-year-old in sixty seconds! God didn’t. So why should we? Even the Father allowed His son some time to grow and mature.
Time allows us to contemplate, reflect and mature in every single aspect of life. Only patience is required.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God…When we are patient, we learn. When we are patient we get stronger. When we are patient we do not look back. We must fight the temptation to jump to conclusions which almost always results in bad decisions.
Must we constantly be reinventing the wheel? No. Patience is a life requirement. It gives us time to accept reality. It also gives those who love us the most some needed time, for we believe that love never fails.