By Bishop Robert Barron
There is a permanent Advent quality to the Christian life. We wait and watch and keep vigil. St. James speaks bluntly and clearly about this kind of waiting: “Be patient, brothers and sisters, until the coming of the Lord” (James 5:7). In one sense, Christianity is a religion of fulfillment, for the Lord has come. But in another sense, it is a religion of waiting, for we expect the second coming of Jesus in the fullness of his power.
And as James clearly suggests, this is difficult.
But what we all know is that great things take time. When a woman becomes pregnant, she has to wait nine long months before the baby is ready; when a gardener works, he waits and watches and cultivates; when an author writes a book, he has to let it come on its terms and in its own time. During any of these processes, the very worst thing you can do is pick at it, force it, or make it operate according to your private timetable. So we endure the harsh and the sweet processes that make growth possible. What James is urging us to do is to imagine our lives as processes of gestation—and not meaningless series of events.
James knows, too, what typically happens when we are impatient: we attack those around us. “Do not complain, brothers and sisters, about one another, that you may not be judged” (James 5:9). Perhaps those around us who bother us and criticize us were sent to us by God.
The key, as always, is how we read what is happening to us. And what is happening is that the Lord is preparing his return.