“The key word in my homily is patience,” Father Apo Mpanda said, preparing us (we did not realize) for homework after Mass the weekend of the Second Sunday in Advent.
Father Apo, the pastor of Our Lady of the River Parish in LeClaire and Church of the Visitation in Camanche, anchored his homily on the second reading, the Second Letter of Peter (3:8-14). The reading begins, “Do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day. The Lord does not delay his promise, as some regard ‘delay,’ but he is patient with you.…”
Patience, a focus of Advent, is a scarcity in our world consumed by a pandemic and ongoing divisiveness after the election. Admittedly, our impatience, the inability to wait, began long before the pandemic. Think, for example, about road rage. “So many of our problems come from impatience,” Father Apo said. He believes almost every sin involves a lack of patience.
With patience, we would resolve our problems more often. With patience, we would increase our ability to get along with one another and work together. With patience, we would create more unity in our parishes and communities, he said.
Patience requires hard work, sacrifice and waiting for the right moment. Patience guides us to love, our love for God and one another. “Advent is a time to learn that patience. It is a season of waiting in joyful hope,” Father Apo said. He told us that the Advent wreath was invented to teach patience! The light of Christ comes when we wait patiently.
“This Advent, I invite each of you to examine your conscience in terms of patience,” Father Apo said. His invitation triggered a memory for me. While interviewing someone for a “Faces in Faith” column that I wrote during my career with the Quad-City Times, I asked my interviewee about her prayer life. “What do you pray for?” I asked. “I’ll tell you what I don’t pray for; I never pray for patience. God will test it!” Her comment affected me deeply because I prayed daily for patience in my relationship with my young son with autism. I decided not to pray for patience anymore.
That decision did not end the testing of my patience, however. The testing has raised my awareness of my impatience toward others and a desire to change. For me, impatience reflects self-centeredness. I am focused on my needs and not someone else’s. I suspect that I am not alone, given the intransigence in our culture today.
During our weekly Bible study this past Sunday, my Uncle Joe and I discussed the meaning of “humble,” in our reading of the First Letter of Peter. The apostle advises Christian communities to “clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another, for: ‘God opposes the proud but bestows favor on the humble.’” Joe quoted the author C.S. Lewis, who said, “True humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.”
The quote caused me to pause. If I were to practice humility, perhaps patience would be a natural outcome. When I lack patience with my son with autism (or anyone else for that matter), I am more concerned about how his actions affect me rather than taking the time to consider the cause of his actions.
Father Apo’s invitation to his parishioners to examine their consciences in terms of patience requires no RSVP. I accept.
(Contact Editor Barb Arland-Fye at email@example.com)