(Submitted by me for today’s bulletin as a member of my parish’s Spiritual Life Committee.)
The core message from the very practical James in today’s second reading (Jas 5:7-10) is one word: patience. Here James is counseling early Christians’ whose patience was worn thin because many of them expected the imminent return of Jesus, His second coming. You have likely heard the adage, “Patience is a virtue,” but this quality was as difficult to practice for James’s contemporaries as it is for us today, especially as we approach Christmas.
The season of Advent is meant to prepare us for December 25th, the day we celebrate Jesus’ birthday. This rich period on the liturgical calendar is meant to bring calm, to slow us down a bit, to give us the opportunity to exercise patience, so that we can properly consider the miracle of the Incarnation of Jesus and His birth to a virgin. It should be a time for increased prayer and devotions and maybe even attending Mass, at least from time to time, during the week.
Unfortunately, far too often in the run up to Christmas, patience’s opposing vice, anger, is increasingly on display, maybe more so than during any other time of the year. This may be experienced in mall parking lots, in store checkout lines, with online sites that no longer have the desired gift in stock, or in the general hustle and bustle of this time of year. This is a sad state of affairs in what is supposed to be a season of joy and peace. It is worth reminding ourselves that Jesus is the reason for the season.
We are encouraged during Advent to recall Jesus’ first coming in the flesh (in the past), His second coming in glory as we profess during the Creed at Sunday Mass (in the future), and His ongoing coming to us in a real and substantial way in the Eucharist at every Mass (right now).
How will you allow this season of preparation to lead you to the patience needed to carve out an appropriate amount of time to contemplate and appreciate our wonderful Savior who redeemed us then, nourishes us now, and will come in glory in the future?