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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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Bernard of Clairvaux: Man of the century! Woman of the century! You see such terms applied to so many today—“golfer of the century,” “composer of the century,” “right tackle of the century”—that the line no longer has any punch. But Western Europe's “man of the twelfth century,” without doubt or controversy, has to be Bernard of Clairvaux. Adviser of popes, preacher of the Second Crusade, defender of the faith, healer of a schism, reformer of a monastic Order, Scripture scholar, theologian and eloquent preacher: any one of these titles would distinguish an ordinary man. Yet Bernard was all of these—and he still retained a burning desire to return to the hidden monastic life of his younger days. 
<p>In the year 1111, at the age of 20, Bernard left his home to join the monastic community of Citeaux. His five brothers, two uncles and some 30 young friends followed him into the monastery. Within four years a dying community had recovered enough vitality to establish a new house in the nearby valley of Wormwoods, with Bernard as abbot. The zealous young man was quite demanding, though more on himself than others. A slight breakdown of health taught him to be more patient and understanding. The valley was soon renamed Clairvaux, the valley of light. </p><p>His ability as arbitrator and counselor became widely known. More and more he was lured away from the monastery to settle long-standing disputes. On several of these occasions he apparently stepped on some sensitive toes in Rome. Bernard was completely dedicated to the primacy of the Roman See. But to a letter of warning from Rome, he replied that the good fathers in Rome had enough to do to keep the Church in one piece. If any matters arose that warranted their interest, he would be the first to let them know. </p><p>Shortly thereafter it was Bernard who intervened in a full-blown schism and settled it in favor of the Roman pontiff against the antipope. </p><p>The Holy See prevailed on Bernard to preach the Second Crusade throughout Europe. His eloquence was so overwhelming that a great army was assembled and the success of the crusade seemed assured. The ideals of the men and their leaders, however, were not those of Abbot Bernard, and the project ended as a complete military and moral disaster. </p><p>Bernard felt responsible in some way for the degenerative effects of the crusade. This heavy burden possibly hastened his death, which came August 20, 1153.</p> American Catholic Blog One of the things that we need to remember is that we’re preaching Jesus, not the institutional Church. It’s easy to get caught up in the rules and regulations of the institution and forget that we are saved not by the Church but by the person of Jesus or the Church as the body of Christ.

 
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