Third Sunday of Advent

James 5:7-10 - Be patient, brothers and sisters, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You too must be patient. Make your hearts firm, because the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not complain, brothers and sisters, about one another, that you may not be judged. Behold, the Judge is standing before the gates. Take as an example of hardship and patience, brothers and sisters, the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.

I just shouted, “That’s it! I give up!” My husband asked me where I was going. My response: “To my room! I need a timeout!!” Our e-mail server was switched this weekend leaving me with a whole lot of extra work to do, e-mail addresses to be transferred, groups to be created. It’s not recognizing some e-mails, won’t add them to the correct groups, etc. After two hours of working on it and becoming more and more impatient (read: frustrated), I shouted, “That’s it! I give up!” and went to my room to give myself a timeout. Cause Lord knows I need it. But instead of praying, sitting, meditating, etc. (what I definitely should have been doing), I decided to continue being the Type-A person that I am and keep chopping away at that To-Do list. (probably not the best decision, but for today it worked out okay) So what was next on the To-Do list?

The Weekly Reflection. My first thought was that I was in wayyyy too bad of a mood to write a reflection. But I opened the readings for this Sunday anyway and read our second reading. Ouch. All about patience. Two verses struck me in that reading this week: You too must be patient. (for obvious reasons) And: Do not complain, brothers and sisters, about one another, that you may not be judged.

Let’s start with patience. Advent is alllll about waiting. But who enjoys waiting? Waiting for a diagnosis from the doctor, sitting in traffic when you’re already running late, hearing that the construction on your place is going to take another month. Waiting is no fun.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. (Colossians 3:12)

Patience is a sign of spiritual maturity. So how do we get it? By practicing it. Right now, stop and breathe in and out three big breaths. In those breaths, recognize the gift that is: that you are alive and breathing. Will it all be okay? Maybe, maybe not. Sometimes it doesn’t all turn out okay here on earth. Sometimes the worst imaginable thing happens and we have to live through it. But keep breathing. You’re not alone. God is with you in that moment. And all he asks from you is to breathe and love. Slow down. Be patient. He is with you.

The second verse that hit me is one I struggle with daily: complaining. Almost every morning before I get out of bed I read Philippians 2:14 – ‘Do everything without complaining’, and every day I return to bed to find that I’ve missed the mark. I haven’t mastered this verse, but I encourage you to join me in trying to make it through a day without complaining (especially about someone else). I’m sure many (or most) of you are far ahead of me on this and make it through a day all the time. If so, challenge yourself to a week, a month, a year.

St. Peter said, “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do.” (1 Peter 1:15) Mother Teresa preached: Holiness is for all. Holiness means to do your vocation perfectly, whatever you are expected to do. A doctor, a teacher, a caregiver, a husband, a manager, a homemaker, a choir member, a wife, a student, a businessman, a parent. You are called to be holy in accordance with your positions in life. Be better, more loving, more generous, more faithful, more devoted… more holy. And do it without complaining… ‘so that you may become blameless and pure children of God.’ (Philippians 2:15)

I’m often thanked for writing these reflections. My response is: ‘It’s a good discipline for me.’ This week my response will be, ‘ohhhh I needed this one.’ J

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