By Lynne Keating
Recently, just before Mass, a friend and I were trying to recall the four Cardinal Virtues.
“I know them,” I said confidently, “Justice, prudence, temperance and patience.”
My friend was impressed, and I was pleased with myself. But during Mass I realized that the last one should have been courage and not patience. I frowned when I realized this, since I had recently studied the Cardinal Virtues one by one.
“Why in the world did I say patience?” I grumbled inwardly, impatient with myself. “What was I thinking?”
Still, all during the Mass, even though I knew I gave my friend the wrong information, somehow I couldn’t shake the feeling that it didn’t feel wrong. “Why?” I wondered.
Fast forward to our readings for today. We hear of God’s promises to Abraham. He would be given descendants as abundant as the stars and, though it took years, Abraham remained faithful, trusting completely in God’s promises even though he and his wife were well past child-bearing age. In the psalm and second reading we are encouraged to be stouthearted, to stand firm in the Lord and to wait for His promises to be fulfilled. The Gospel gives us a glimpse of this inheritance as three apostles witness the Transfiguration of Jesus, His glorified body filled with light.
Often, however, the path from where I am in my walk with the Lord to where that glorious inheritance lies seems so long, the battle so fierce, and the road so rocky that it is easy to despair.
Eventually, I came to realize that the exercise of patience—patience with myself, patience with others, and even patience with God—may in fact be the most courageous thing followers of Christ are ever asked to do. It may also be the most God-like thing we are ever asked to do. For we are told, “God is love” (1 John 4:8), and “Love is patient!” (1Corinthians 13:4).
Then it dawned on me! During this special Year of Mercy, can we find any better way to be merciful like the Father, than to be as courageously patient with others as God is with us?
St. Therese of Lisieux tells us that patience with ourselves is just as important: “If you can bear serenely the trial of being displeasing to yourself, you will be for Jesus a pleasant place of shelter.” And Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI reminds us to be patient with God: “We suffer on account of God’s patience. And yet … the world is redeemed by the patience of God.”
Perhaps during this Year of Mercy, in order to be merciful, like the Father, we are being called to exercise divine patience, to wait in expectant faith for the promises of the Father to be fulfilled within ourselves and within others, to wait upon the Lord with a steadfast and joyful spirit. Perhaps through such a transfiguration, one day at a time, one person at a time, one situation at time, we might just bring about the transfiguration of the entire world!
Today, take some time to consider the boundless patience of God. Then stop before you lean on that horn in traffic, before you roll your eyes at the person counting pennies in the express lane, before you walk away from unhappy news reports in frustration and despair. Instead, stand firm! Be steadfast, and wait upon the Lord.
They who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.
About the Author:
Author and blogger, Lynne Keating, lectors and teaches the Bible to CCD students at Saint John the Beloved Parish in Wilmington, DE. Convinced that this is one of the most exciting and important times in salvation history, her writing encourages all people to recognize and rejoice in God’s self-offering love, revealed more and more through the actions of His people. She blogs at Fellowship of the Lamb.