Sins of Impatience

(Homily for Second Sunday of Advent - Year B)

Bottom line: We need to learn God's time - to avoid those sins of impatience that cause so much harm. If we wait patiently, he will give us every good thing.

The theme this Sunday is about God's time and our time. To illustrate this, I will begin with a humorous story:

A man once had a conversation with God. He asked, "Lord, I have always wondered about time. What is a thousand years like for you?" God answered, "For me a thousand years is like a second."

The man then asked, "What about money? What is a million dollars like for you?" And God answered, "For me a million dollars is like a penny."

The man became eager and said, "Lord, could you give me one of those pennies?" God answered, "No problem, but you will have to wait one second."

Today St. Peter reminds us that God's time is different from ours. "With the Lord," says St. Peter, "one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day." Then Peter exhorts us, he urges us to be patient because God is patient with with us. "The day of the Lord will come," he assures us.

Patience is such an important virtue. It means waiting, sacrificing some immediate satisfaction for the sake of a greater good. Impatience, on the other hand, is the unwillingness to wait, wanting it all right now.

So many of our problems come from impatience. Consider our current financial meltdown. Bankers, eager to make a quick profit, told young people that they could have it all, now: a new house, a new car, everything. No need to wait. Well, our impatience to have it all has sadly caught up with us.

This Advent I invite you to examine your conscience in terms of patience. We hear today that, when John baptized people, "they acknowledged their sins." When you think about it, almost every sin involves a lack of patience. For example when I lost my temper, maybe flew into road rage - that showed a glaring lack of patience. Stealing and cheating are also sins of impatience: Rather than working hard, a person simply wants to grab things. And even sins like fornication, adultery, pornography, cohabitation and contraception are sins of impatience. Rather than respecting God's plan for marriage and human sexuality, a person wants it all and he wants it now. As a society - for about fifty years - we have been experimenting with cohabitation (living together) and contraception (birth control). Contrary to all the promises, cohabitation and contraception have not brought us strong, happy marriages. Just the opposite.

We need to return to the basics - and there is no virtue more basic than patience. It means discipline, hard work, sacrifice, waiting for the right moment. Patience is difficult. But it does bring great rewards. I mentioned cohabitation and contraception as examples of impatience - and the negative impact those practices have on marriage. On the other hand, couples who wait until marriage and who use natural family planning have a significantly lower divorce rate. It is not foolproof, but it does indicate that patience brings blessings even in this present life. Once again, patience is not easy - and I need to learn it just as much as you do.

Advent is a time for precisely that - to learn patience. It is a season of "waiting in joyful hope." Today we lit the second candle of the Advent Wreath. The Advent Wreath (in its modern form) was invented to teach patience. A man named Johann Hinrich Wichern (1808-1881) had founded a home for poor children in Hamburg. The children kept asking him how many days were left until Christmas. As a response, he developed the Advent Wreath with its candles to give the children some idea.

We use the Advent Wreath for a similar purpose - to learn patience: To wait, not nervously, but patiently. For sure, things sometimes seem dark, but the Advent Wreath says that the light of Christ has come - and that it will grow. We need to learn God's time - to avoid those sins of impatience that cause so much harm. If we wait patiently, he will give us every good thing. Teach us, Lord, to wait patiently until the proper moment. Teach us, Lord, to wait in joyful hope.

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General Intercessions for the Second Sunday of Advent, Cycle B (from Priests for Life)

Spanish Version

From Archives (Second Sunday of Advent, Year B):

2014: Preparing Our Hearts Week 2
2011: The Collect
2008: Sins of Impatience
2005: Unmasking Sin
2002: They Acknowledged Their Sins
1999: They Confessed Their Sins

Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C

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