11 March 2007

MANY CHANCES BUT THERE IS ALWAYS A LAST ONE



3rd Sunday of Lent
Lk 13:1-9

St. Augustine, a great saint and doctor of the Church, once prayed, “Lord, please give me patience and I want it now.” What an impatient prayer for patience!

Let us talk and reflect about something we always ask for but sometimes have none: patience.

Patience is a human luxury. Many pray for it yet still many have little of it or none at all. Impatience is a malady that afflicts countless souls.

Some are impatient about things of great importance, such as about the snail-paced economy of the country, while others are impatient on small matters, like on a fresh pimple on the face. Some are impatient for material things, like for a new top-of-the-line mobile phone, while others about spiritual affairs, such as about a falling into the same sins over and over again. Most are impatient about others, but there are also those who are impatient about their selves too. Still, there are those who are impatient over the fact that they have little or no patience at all.

Patience, however, is ordinary to God. God is patient always. Impatience is an option that God never takes. He is patient to the good and the bad. He is patient over grave sins as He is patient about petty ones. He is patient with the adventurous as He is likewise patient with the complacent. God is patient even with those who are impatient with Him.

Quite often, we are impatient because we cannot tolerate the imperfection of others even while we ourselves are imperfect. We are imperfect but we continue demanding from others nothing less than perfection itself. While our quest for perfection keeps our focus on the effort of improving our selves, it is not seldom that we lose our focus on our selves as we fix our attention on the imperfection of others, is it not? Because we forget that we are just as imperfect as the rest of humanity, we easily become impatient with others. And when we finally remember our own imperfection, either we become compassionate toward others or we become the next victim of our own impatience.

God is always patient because He alone is truly perfect. It follows that all His attributes are perfect too. Thus, His love for us is perfect. His patience for us is perfected in love. When we sin, He is always ready to forgive us. He turns our greatest blunders into our greatest lessons in life. He respects our freedom even when we use the very same freedom against Him. He provides us space when we need some and even when it means away from Him. He supplies us with time and gives us countless chances to make up and do better. Patiently, He believes in us. Patiently, He hopes in us. Patiently, He loves us.

Lent gently sways to the tune of song: “Long have I waited for your coming home to Me and living deeply our new life.” This is God’s song to us. Notice: he never forces us, never coerces us, never pulls us toward Him against our will. No, He waits for us. And He waits not matter how long it takes. He is patient. He is perfect. He is perfectly patient with us.

But God’s patience with us must not make us complacent and indifferent to our transgressions. His unfathomable love for us is not a license for us to do anything we want, including sin. While God is perfectly patient with us, we should not forget that we are also perfectly accountable for our deeds done in full knowledge and consent. God’s patience with us – no matter how perfect it is – does not erase the consequences of our actions.

God gives us many chances before the last one. This He does even we have always proven how unfaithful we are to Him. This He does because He never wishes the death of a sinner. His ultimate joy, rather, is to welcome back in His fatherly embrace every prodigal child. He is waiting for the return of the prodigal son, not with a whip in His hand to punish Him but with a fatted calf to feast with him and his friends.

The bad things that happen to us? They are not punishments from God. God is not a monster. He never punishes. We punish our selves instead. “The wages of sin is death,” so says St. Paul the Apostle (Rom 6:23). When bad things happen to bad people, it is because they are bad to begin with. When bad things happen to good people, it is because bad people exist.

Next time we suffer unfortunate incidents, ill health, or any bad things in life, let us not be too quick to point an accusing finger to God and judge Him to be punitive. Perhaps, our misfortunes are natural consequences of our misdeeds, ill will, or bad character. Perhaps, they are payments to debts long overdue. Perhaps they are wages of our sins. Let us, instead, humbly acknowledge our shortcomings, beg for forgiveness, set aright what we have rendered wrong, and amend our ways.

Psalm 95:7-8 is very much a Lenten reminder for us all: “If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts.” As we go deeper and deeper into the season of Lent, let us go deeper and deeper into our hearts and heed these words of the psalmist. While God gives us many chances before the last one, do not forget the fact that there is always a last one. Recall those who were with us last Easter but have now gone to eternity since then. Nothing guarantees us that we will still be here next Easter.

Remember: God is patient but the devil is not.

1 Comments:

At 1:05 PM , Anonymous Charisse said...

Well said.

 

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