Friday, January 28, 2011


As we sit in the middle of winter, the gospel gives us an agricultural metaphor.

Of its own accord the land yields fruit, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.

In the time of Jesus this metaphor would have been understood and lived. With plants and animals people had to wait for the natural cycle of growth, and in that waiting learned the virtue of patience. In our modern age we can accelerate everything including the growth rate of animals so we have to wait for nothing. The few times we are forced to wait, our response is anger. Why is that?

I wonder if the root of the problem doesn't rest in two fundamentally flawed assumptions.

The first looks out and believes that our true happiness is tied to some thing outside ourselves, some good or service, and so we must have it right now.

The second is more internal. It is the belief that our value as a person is linked to how much we produce.

Even in churches it is: How big is your congregation? How many programs do you run? How popular are they?

We need to remind ourselves that in the end we are not going to be judged on how productive we were at our jobs, but how faithful we were to Jesus and his gospel. The double commandment to love reminds us that we will be judged on our relationships: to Christ, to his church, to all our brothers and sisters.

Recently the church recognized the value of social networking with the warning that these "friends" can not be a substitute for real human interactions.

Even that time you are on hold waiting for an operator is an opportunity for an Our Father, or a decade of the rosary offered for someone, maybe even a prayer for the over-worked under-paid operator in Bangalore who spends their day being yelled at by strangers like us.

The virtue of patience isn't magic, it starts in remembering what is truly of value, the human person.