How many of you had a chance to watch the movie, Indiana Jones and the last Crusade? In that movie we find the impatience of a Nazi general and the patience that pays off for the American journalist, Jones. The gist of the story is something like this. People are all trying to find the Holy Grail and want to take the magical drink from the grail which will restore their youthfulness for ever. Jones finally makes it to the grail only to be followed and overpowered by the Nazi general. The general and Jones are to pick up a cup from the collection of ancient cups and chalices and take their drink. Of course the general immediately goes for the gold chalice and takes a drink only to realize instantly that he has chosen wrongly as he aged faster and disappeared into nothing. While Jones, waits, thinks about what it is that needs to be done and finally picks up the clay cup, which if anyone knows Jesus, the poor man from Galilee, would have chosen to drink out of. The patience, thoughtfulness, internalization pays off for Jones.
We live in a world that has lost its patience. One of the greatest events of history is the touch down of Rover into Mars, that took about 8 minutes. However it took about 8 ½ months of waiting for the scientists wondering, hoping and praying that all the money and their hard work won’t be in vain. I don’t have to go that far for the lessons on patience. It is something each and every parent here has experienced and learned from. We had to wait for months to find the most beautiful and greatest of all treasures each of you have in your children.But we live in a world of instant gratification and result. Waiting a 10 second to open a web browser is too long for us.
The greatest and most beautiful things on earth come after a long wait. It does not happen instantly and it takes patience, absolute patience that will drive us to the walls. You might ask me some of these questions.
I read these questions from a fellow writer. How long should I wait …
- For love?
- In a line at the post office?
- In a doctor’s office?
- For an elevator?
- For a loved one to deal with an addiction?
- For a plumber to show up?
- For my boyfriend to propose?
- For fresh concrete to harden before driving on it?
- To retire?
- Before seeing a doctor, if …
- Before announcing my pregnancy?
- Before moving my adult children out of the house?
Well. These are in fact easy questions actually. Here are some difficult ones that you might wonder about.
How long should I wait for:
- My child to learn responsibility?
- My family to accept me?
- My illness to go away?
- My pain to disappear?
- My spouse to change?
- The world around to show justice to all… and on and on
One of the most important works of God is changing lives. One of the greatest sacramental graces we are all given is the gift to tune our lives to that of Jesus. It is easy to philosophize Jesus and miss the point about Him. Because we are too fast and furious demanding the change we desire around us forgetting Jesus asks for truth, love and patience. What is the tune of Jesus? Truth, love and patience. In another words, Change the way we live, Work Hard and Wait.
These three things are necessary for God to transform our lives: Truth that can set us on the right path, Love can surpass everything, and finally time, to let it all take place according to God’s plan. How do we get to these Spiritual Practices?
First: Be sorry for the times we know we have failed. Not for the times people think we have failed. In fact that is where all the troubles and tensions begin. We begin to react to what people think rather than what we have reached on our own as our failure. No one needs to tell us what we need to repent on, if we are truthful to ourselves. Truth sets us free. So, Change your life, because you know it is less than that of Christ.
Second: Work hard to love. How do we love. Make it easier for ourselves and for others to change their lives as we see in the Gospel today. Do not cut them down easily, says Jesus. The vinedresser asks for a year, which means time, so that he can till the ground, not sit around hoping for the best, manure it and help it grow and bloom. Love expressed in the context of a relationship weather individual or corporal demands proactive opportunities to make change possible.
Thirdly: After having changed our lives to the tune of truth, and done the groundwork to fertilize the growth, we are called to wait. Simply wait. This is what we don’t hear most of the time. The Lord asks for time for the fertilizer to affect the person, the people and the plant we are part of, namely the church. God has an absolute sense of humor. The biggest change we hope for in our lives does not usually happen in the life of the one who longs for it. He and she is taught a lesson to let go of crippling impatience in favor of God’s timing, so that we know truth and love is what matters in life.
“Above all, trust in the slow work of God. We are, quite naturally, impatient in everything to reach the end without delay. We should like to skip the intermediate stages, we are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new. And yet, it is the law of all progress that it is made by passing through some stages of instability and that it may take a very long time”.
So, instability is sign of transformation. While you know you are unstable in your life, spiritual or temporal, remember, there is the opportunity to work harder, and to wait in patience. Change comes after an intermediate moment of confusion. Change happens when we know we are headed towards a mystery of life and it is only beautiful if it can be experienced as mystery. Mystery is always more beautiful, because in it is all the surprises and newness we are waiting for.
So, the third element of life is Time. From Truth to Love to Time, O Lord that we will know in waiting there is wisdom beyond ages. As the people of Israel waited for thousands of years for the arrival of Messiah, may we be given the grace to long for new life.
(c) Jos Tharakan