PATIENCE, THE FORGOTTEN VIRTUE


In your patience possess/acquire (κτήσασθε) your souls.” (Lk 21: 19)

I know I’ve reflected on this passage before, about “patience” (“ὑπο-μονή” in Greek, meaning, literally, “a remaining behind”). But this morning I came across it again, and realized how, once again, I’d forgotten all about this vital, central virtue of “remaining behind” and, essentially, waiting. Sometimes, “you just have to wait, you gotta trust, give it time…,” as Phil Collins put it. It is trust, or more specifically faith, which makes patience, which has been called “the power to wait,” possible. In patience, we “wait” for what God sends us next, for example, the wisdom of what we should or should not do in a given situation.

Today let me have patience, both in the small and big things. In the “small” things, like slight annoyances with things (when the computer stalls), or with people (when Uncle Joe makes those comments at dinner), I can take pause for a few moments, before saying or doing anything. As far as the “big” things go, in our personal lives they can, in some cases, remain unresolved and ambivalent for months or even years. The same is true of our communal and political situations, in which some glaring “problems” persist, often driving us crazy.

But maybe, I’m thinking today, the Lord is saying to me, these very ambivalences and persistent “problems” are the place I put you, so you can “acquire” your “soul.” What does that mean? It means coming alive to God, in faith and trust in Him, through the ups and downs of the cross-carrying journey. It means “acquiring” a sensitivity for the bigger picture, the invisible one, of God’s undying, Self-offering, and com-passionate faith in us. It also means taking down a notch my sensitivity for the deadening divisiveness of the merely-human. Lord, help me take up Your cross today, and follow You, in faithful, prayerful patience.

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