Third Sunday of Advent
Second Reading:James 5: 7-10
In today’s Reading, St James also looks to the prophets as an example - speaking of their patience in waiting for the coming of the Lord.
Patience has never been a popular virtue.
Everyone feels that they want things to happen quickly - and waiting feels like a waste of time.
However, that depends on what is happening during the waiting-time.
St James offers the example of the farmer waiting for the precious harvest. Having planted his crops - and, presumably, keeping them free of weeds and pests - there is little he can do until the autumn and spring rains have done their work. If, in his impatience, the farmer kept pulling up his plants to see how they were growing, he would end up with a very sad crop.
It does not mean that he does nothing - but does mean that he accepts the rhythm to life and works within it rather than trying to hurry things up and ending up frustrated.
In the same way, we cannot make the day of the Lord’s Coming come any sooner. For many people in our generation, that would feel like a good thing - like the people in Noah’s day, people are far too busy to have time for a Second Coming. (see the Gospel for the First Sunday this Advent)
For the Christians who received St James’ Letter, the situation was very different - they couldn’t wait and were positively impatient for it to happen! They were frustrated at the apparent delay - and, from what James is saying, taking some of that frustration out on each other.
This tends not to be a problem for us - we are more like the people who don’t feel ready for the Second Coming. In fact, many of us would rather not think about it.
This is probably due to a fear of the judgement that we have been told will accompany the Coming. This is understandable - whose life can stand up to scrutiny?
But, alongside the judgement will be the establishment of the Kingdom. In the Fist Reading today, we are given an idea of what that means. For Isaiah, the longing was for the restoration of an earthly kingdom - and so his imagery reflects the dreams of the people of his day.
Our dreams are not so very different - but we have perhaps lost the belief that God really will make them happen...
If the Second Coming means what Isaiah and Jesus suggest it will - shouldn’t we be a little more like the community of St James - needing lessons in patience as we wait in joyful hope?
What does it mean for me?
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