“Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains.” James 5: 7-10
In this advent season, in the busyness of finishing up exams, seeing family, buying gifts, and preparing for Christmas, patience seems like an idle wait that is both unproductive and insignificant in this season that prompts us to “do something.” We should “wait” for Christ’s coming, but in the busyness, this too becomes an eagerness to prepare and not a quiet moment of rest.
Then, where can we learn patience? As I was sitting in one of the first pews of St. Paul’s Parish, I could hear the distant chatter of kids, and quiet “shushes” from parents. In particular, there was a little girl in a blue dress, amazed by the architecture around her. Though at the beginning of mass she was unable to stay still in her wonder, she ended up sitting on her mother’s lap with her dad sitting close enough to softly kiss the curls on her head. There was a peace that settled into the church, seemingly from this one family.
And what one family teaches us patience more than the Holy Family? If we believe in the humanity of Christ, there is a need to understand the humanity of Mary and Joseph. For them the “coming of the Lord” was a clear reality. With Jesus in her womb, I cannot even fathom the excitement that must have been in her heart as she awaited her Lord – her son. What would he look like? What would he sound like? What kind of mother will I be? What joys and what fears are in my mind and on my heart? And for Joseph – how will God call me to raise him? How can I best love my wife through this period of travelling and uncertainty? How is God calling me to provide?
The images of the Holy Family often evoked are of Jesus’ birth. The immense grace, love, and patience woven into the story of their lives, would eventually become the cloths that would readily and warmly receive the first, soft cries of our Lord.
However, this patience seems hard to achieve. Though reading James 5:7 one more time helps me to realize an important key to reaching it:
“Be patient, therefore, beloved.”
He calls us beloved, and though I don’t really know what this means, I know that it is something that I cannot earn. God, in His goodness, freely gives us this gift of love and belovedness. In the times that I feel like I need to do something or earn something, whether it be grades, attention, or just plainly from my own ambition to prove to myself that I can reach my own high standards, I am constantly reminded of this gift that God freely and joyfully gives to me. I don’t have to do anything for God – who is infinitely greater than I could ever imagine – to love me.
From knowing that I am beloved, my heart finds rest. Thus, the eager desire to achieve patience dissipates because it comes freely with an identity that is rooted in Christ. The goodness of God is that He gives you one gift, and another, and then another which, put all together, becomes the story of your life. Suffering can seep in, of course, but as Christians it is evident from Christ’s suffering on the Cross and His Resurrection, that anything can and everything will come forth to bring new life, if only we let it.
From the patience they had, waiting for Jesus, Mary and Joseph must have been so aware of their belovedness – so aware of the gaze of a loving Father looking warmly upon them as they awaited a new life to enter into their family.
As your belovedness is tested and thus your patience challenged, remember that still “you also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near” (James 5:8).
Mary and Joseph, pray for us.
Nam Hyun Kim ’21 is a junior in Eliot House studying History and Archeology.