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Spiritual Reflection Third Sunday in Advent

Spiritual Reflection – Waiting

We live in a world which does not like to wait. Instant gratification is the norm, and we are finding it more and more objectionable to endure even a short delay. Inevitably, the expectation of a rapid response infiltrates our spiritual life and our prayer. We want things to happen quickly. 

If we are halfway wise, however, we probably realise that some things take time to reach their full development. Rome was not built in a day, and any worthwhile art or craft takes years to master. Unless we plan on dying young, it will be many years—even decades—before our spiritual life begins to manifest the degree of intensity for which we hope. God’s work in us proceeds at its own pace; it has to operate on several levels simultaneously, and the transformation it seeks to accomplish is so radical that there are many other issues that must be faced before it can flower. 

In the beginning there were often strong feelings of devotion and sudden spurts of generosity. As the years pass and spiritual values begin to take root in our everyday behaviour, the rate of progress declines. It may well seem to us that nothing much is happening. We may think we are stagnating. Yet, in an undramatic way, God is still at work. What is asked of us is the patience to remain with the process. 

The years of waiting bring about changes in us; above all, they teach us to be less impatient for tangible results. We may become gradually aware that our desire for God is growing and becoming more focused. That we have a broader perspective on life and are less disturbed by daily trifles. Meanwhile, the seed of God’s planting is sprouting within us. Even though we cannot control or accelerate its growth, it is daily stretching forth to its season of fruitfulness. This is why Jesus tells his disciples to learn the art of waiting—you will see yet greater things.

Michael Casey, Balaam’s Donkey: Random Ruminations for Everyone Day of the Year (Collegeville, Minnesota: Liturgical Press, 2019), eBook Location 7464.

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