November 26, 2010

Faith and Family / Sean Gallagher

Have a ‘holy impatience’ this Advent

Sean GallagherPatience, we are told, is a virtue.

Given the little trials that we face each day, let alone the big burdens that come our way from time to time, patience, at the very least, is helpful in being reasonably happy in this life.

Looked at from an eternal perspective, patience can be seen as a key to our salvation. It is suggested in Christ’s teaching that “the one who perseveres to the end will be saved” (Mt 10:22; Mt: 24:13).

And we should strive with the help of grace to imitate Christ who is “patient with [us], not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pt 3:9).

But in the face of such trustworthy authorities, might I suggest that we embrace during this Advent season what might be called a “holy impatience?”

Now I see impatience in my home all the time, but it’s usually not holy impatience. I see it in my young sons who, many times a day, ask for things from my wife, Cindy, or me and want them right now. Then I see it in myself when I have asked the boys to do a chore and they drag their feet in doing it.

Every now and then, though, I am blessed to see that impatience transformed by grace into something holy—like this past Halloween.

On that night, my boys didn’t go out trick-or-treating. They instead went to a couple of All Saints Day parties and visited their grandparents.

That evening, we weren’t planning on handing out candy, mainly because we usually hadn’t been home on previous Halloween nights.

But those plans changed when we saw some neighbors and their two young costumed children walk by. So we called out to them and gave the children some candy corn from the two small bags of it that we had on hand.

Welcoming people to our home and giving them candy caught my boys’ imagination. They immediately wanted to give away the rest. So we turned on the porch light and soon other trick-or-treaters were knocking on our door. Raphael kept a vigilant lookout at our front window, and Michael was ready at a moment’s notice to give away candy at the door.

Soon, however, our small supply of candy corn was depleted. But our boys were so impatient to welcome trick-or-treaters that they started giving away the candy that they had collected at the parties they had attended.

They didn’t think twice about it. Cindy and I didn’t ask them to do it. They were just so impatient for the next group of ghouls and goblins to come to our door that they gave their own candy away.

That’s what I call a holy impatience.

And it is the kind of impatience that is good to foster in our hearts during these weeks of Advent leading up to Christmas.

For centuries, the people of Israel waited and waited for the coming of the long-promised Messiah. We can see their impatience, perhaps a holy impatience, in the psalms:

“How long, O Lord, will you forget me? How long will you hide your face?” (Ps 13:2). “Lord, how long will you look on? Come to my rescue?” (Ps 35:17).

In our own day, we shouldn’t be so patient to grow close to the Lord that we are to the point of being indifferent about it.

Ask our heavenly Father to plant in your heart during this Advent season a holy impatience for Christ to come into your life in a new and life-giving way.

Then you will be like Michael and Raphael were on Halloween—always on the lookout for Christ coming to your door. †

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