In waiting with hopeful patience for the kingdom of justice and peace to reign forever, we may at times, be more easily tempted not to wait and hope, but instead, to simply refuse to persevere in the “changing of our hearts.”
We may more easily decide to continue with our old selfish and oppressive ways, and “try the patience of people” as well as “try the patience of our God.” We may also more likely challenge the patience of those who are on the other hand, struggling to help God build his kingdom among us, making them impatient themselves, hence compelling them to achieve justice and peace according to their own will and means, not according to the wishes of the Spirit.
Our shared impatience – of those and with those who cannot and will not change – will perpetuate the injustice, the anxiety and the violence of our times.
But the Creator Spirit is aware of this impatience in our human nature. That is why he will ably support hopeful patience with a sign, which he sends “from the deepest depths or from the heights of heaven.” Like Ahaz, we may respectfully yet deceptively turn down the offer, “I will not ask, I will not put God to the test,” but this attitude betrays our actual determination to stubbornly remain in our old ways.
Nonetheless, the prophets warn that this sign will be sent by the Lord. What is this sign? It is the sign that ‘God has already been present among us, and will continue to be with us’ to help build his eternal kingdom, in spite of our incessant clamoring for its fruits without wanting to work for it. It is the sign of he who chooses out of love, to be faithful to the faithless. It is the sign borne by those who are dedicated to the mission of revealing the disturbing image of the “God-with-us” strongly admonishing us to wait and hope for the glorious end; to humbly “change our hearts”; and to charitably and responsibly serve others, without disobeying or contesting his will. “Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign: The Virgin is with child and bears a son and calls his name Immanuel.”
This is the same sign we are confronted with every year at Christmas. But of what use is the repeated recollection of this sign, if we will only continue after Christmas with our old selfish and oppressive ways, and again “try the patience of people” as well as “try the patience of our God?”
What then, must we do with the sign? Like Joseph, we have to welcome and listen to it: “Joseph, descendant of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. She has conceived by the Holy Spirit, and now she will bear a son. You shall call him ‘Jesus’ for he will save his people from their sins.” May we all welcome and listen to those inspired by the Spirit, carrying the disturbing image of the Christ, who will liberate us from the injustice, the anxiety and the violence of our times. Like Joseph, we have to act on the meaning of the sign: “He did what the angel of the Lord had told him to do, and he took his wife to his home.” May we all learn to similarly carry this same Christ into our families and homes, where the forever reign of justice and peace, will have its inconspicuous beginnings.
For “through him, Jesus Christ … and for the sake of his name, we received grace … and peace.”
Brother Jess Matias is a professed brother of the Secular Franciscan Order. He serves as minister of the St. Pio of Pietrelcina Fraternity at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Mandaluyong City, coordinator of the Padre Pio Prayer Groups of the Capuchins in the Philippines and prison counselor and catechist for the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology.
The views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial stance of LiCAS.news.