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Bible Reflections View Comments

Things to Do While We Wait
By Diane M. Houdek
Source: Bringing Home the Word
Published: Sunday, October 6, 2013
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Studies now tell us that multitasking isn’t really as efficient as we’ve been led to believe, but daydreaming—or even napping—can lead to breakthroughs in solving difficult problems. Time we might consider “wasted” sometimes proves to be the most fruitful.

Today’s first reading, from the prophet Habakkuk, can offer us some inspiration for those waiting times. He speaks to a people historically restless for salvation:
    The vision still has its time,
    presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint;
    if it delays, wait for it,
    it will surely come, it will not be late.     

The most significant things in life can’t be hurried: birth, death, the growth of a child, recovery after an injury, the blossoming—or healing—of a relationship. A year ago I spent  most of September and October traveling between Ohio and Wisconsin, waiting for my mother’s death. At the same time my youngest niece was waiting for the birth of her daughter. My sister and I?remarked at the similarity of our all-night vigils around both events—and our inability to do anything about the waiting!

Waiting and faith are connected. We can wait patiently when we have faith that the outcome will be worth the wait, when we understand the reason behind the waiting. Often our impatience with waiting has more to do with doubt and uncertainty than with the time itself.

In the Gospel, the disciples ask Jesus to increase their faith, as though faith were something that could be measured. He tells them it’s not a question of needing more faith. It’s doing what that faith tells us we can—and must—do. Not necessarily uprooting mulberry trees, but perhaps uprooting the prejudice that keeps us from pursuing real justice in our society, or the carelessness that sets in motion a mindless cycle of consumption and waste that threatens to destroy our planet.

The changes that need to happen, whether in our own lives or in the life of our world, aren’t going to happen overnight. In most cases, the things went wrong over a long period of time, and the healing, too, will be slow in coming. But come it will, if we have faith in the rightness of God’s plan.

So what can we do while we wait? First of all, we can pray. We can pray to see what God has to teach us through the very act of waiting. We can pray for the patience to wait for the unfolding of God’s plan. And we can look for the in-between steps that we might take to bring about the fulfillment of that plan.

In response to their request for more faith, Jesus poses to his disciples a question about service. He perceives that what they’re asking for is not necessarily faith but rather a life without worry or hardship or effort. He reminds them they are called to work in the kingdom of God.

The words of the prophets call us to have faith in our unique abilities, our God-given talents, in the vision that waits to be fulfilled in our lives. This is the kind of faith Jesus tells his disciples they already have. This is the kind of faith we have, whether we know it or not. We might be unprofitable servants, but all God asks is that we do what we are called to do.


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Peter of Alcantara: Peter was a contemporary of well-known 16th-century Spanish saints, including Ignatius of Loyola and John of the Cross. He served as confessor to St. Teresa of Avila. Church reform was a major issue in Peter’s day, and he directed most of his energies toward that end. His death came one year before the Council of Trent ended. 
<p>Born into a noble family (his father was the governor of Alcantara in Spain), Peter studied law at Salamanca University and, at 16, joined the so-called Observant Franciscans (also known as the discalced, or barefoot, friars). While he practiced many penances, he also demonstrated abilities which were soon recognized. He was named the superior of a new house even before his ordination as a priest; at the age of 39, he was elected provincial; he was a very successful preacher. Still, he was not above washing dishes and cutting wood for the friars. He did not seek attention; indeed, he preferred solitude.</p><p>Peter’s penitential side was evident when it came to food and clothing. It is said that he slept only 90 minutes each night. While others talked about Church reform, Peter’s reform began with himself. His patience was so great that a proverb arose: "To bear such an insult one must have the patience of Peter of Alcantara."</p><p>In 1554, Peter, having received permission, formed a group of Franciscans who followed the Rule of St. Francis with even greater rigor. These friars were known as Alcantarines. Some of the Spanish friars who came to North and South America in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries were members of this group. At the end of the 19th century, the Alcantarines were joined with other Observant friars to form the Order of Friars Minor.</p><p>As spiritual director to St. Teresa, Peter encouraged her in promoting the Carmelite reform. His preaching brought many people to religious life, especially to the Secular Franciscan Order, the friars and the Poor Clares.</p><p>He was canonized in 1669.</p> American Catholic Blog Remember the widow’s mite. She threw into the treasury of the temple only two small coins, but with them, all her great love…. It is, above all, the interior value of the gift that counts: the readiness to share everything, the readiness to give oneself. —Pope John Paul II

 
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