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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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Visitation: This is a fairly late feast, going back only to the 13th or 14th century. It was established widely throughout the Church to pray for unity. The present date of celebration was set in 1969 in order to follow the Annunciation of the Lord (March 25) and precede the Nativity of John the Baptist (June 24). 
<p>Like most feasts of Mary, it is closely connected with Jesus and his saving work. The more visible actors in the visitation drama (see Luke 1:39-45) are Mary and Elizabeth. However, Jesus and John the Baptist steal the scene in a hidden way. Jesus makes John leap with joy—the joy of messianic salvation. Elizabeth, in turn, is filled with the Holy Spirit and addresses words of praise to Mary—words that echo down through the ages. </p><p>It is helpful to recall that we do not have a journalist’s account of this meeting. Rather, Luke, speaking for the Church, gives a prayerful poet’s rendition of the scene. Elizabeth’s praise of Mary as “the mother of my Lord” can be viewed as the earliest Church’s devotion to Mary. As with all authentic devotion to Mary, Elizabeth’s (the Church’s) words first praise God for what God has done to Mary. Only secondly does she praise Mary for trusting God’s words. </p><p>Then comes the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55). Here Mary herself (like the Church) traces all her greatness to God.</p> American Catholic Blog Someone once told Pope Francis that his words had inspired him to give a lot more to the poor. Pope Francis’s response was to challenge the man not to just give money, but to roll up his sleeves, get his hands dirty, and actually reach out and help.

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