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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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Jacopone da Todi: Jacomo, or James, was born a noble member of the Benedetti family in the northern Italian city of Todi. He became a successful lawyer and married a pious, generous lady named Vanna. 
<p>His young wife took it upon herself to do penance for the worldly excesses of her husband. One day Vanna, at the insistence of Jacomo, attended a public tournament. She was sitting in the stands with the other noble ladies when the stands collapsed. Vanna was killed. Her shaken husband was even more disturbed when he realized that the penitential girdle she wore was for his sinfulness. On the spot, he vowed to radically change his life. </p><p>He divided his possessions among the poor and entered the Secular Franciscan Order (once known as the Third Order). Often dressed in penitential rags, he was mocked as a fool and called Jacopone, or "Crazy Jim," by his former associates. The name became dear to him. </p><p>After 10 years of such humiliation, Jacopone asked to be a member of the Order of Friars Minor(First Order). Because of his reputation, his request was initially refused. He composed a beautiful poem on the vanities of the world, an act that eventually led to his admission into the Order in 1278. He continued to lead a life of strict penance, declining to be ordained a priest. Meanwhile he was writing popular hymns in the vernacular. </p><p>Jacopone suddenly found himself a leader in a disturbing religious movement among the Franciscans. The Spirituals, as they were called, wanted a return to the strict poverty of Francis. They had on their side two cardinals of the Church and Pope Celestine V. These two cardinals, though, opposed Celestine’s successor, Boniface VIII. At the age of 68, Jacopone was excommunicated and imprisoned. Although he acknowledged his mistake, Jacopone was not absolved and released until Benedict XI became pope five years later. He had accepted his imprisonment as penance. He spent the final three years of his life more spiritual than ever, weeping "because Love is not loved." During this time he wrote the famous Latin hymn, <i>Stabat Mater</i>. </p><p>On Christmas Eve in 1306 Jacopone felt that his end was near. He was in a convent of the Poor Clares with his friend, Blessed John of La Verna. Like Francis, Jacopone welcomed "Sister Death" with one of his favorite songs. It is said that he finished the song and died as the priest intoned the Gloria from the midnight Mass at Christmas. From the time of his death, Brother Jacopone has been venerated as a saint.</p> American Catholic Blog By immersing our lives in the rhythm of the season, charity can flood our souls and fill us with the happiness for which we were created. We awake Christmas morning prepared to celebrate the birth of our Savior not as a memory but as a profound experience of God’s redemptive love.

 
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