19th Sunday of Ordinary Time
12 AUGUST 2001
Scriptual Reference: Wisdom 18:6-9, Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-19, Luke 12:32-48

Good Things Come to Those Who Wait

       Good things come to those who wait, but waiting is hard to do. For those of us who suffer from an occasional lack of patience, this is especially difficult, especially in traffic. Up in Hamilton County, just north of Indianapolis, they know this. They have installed cameras high above many intersections. These cameras take a picture of your license plate if, in a fit of impatience, you run a red light. I heard a story once about a man who did not like to wait, and who would always race through lights that were a little too 'pink.' He fell prey to one of these high-tech intersections, and was sent a picture of his license plate and a ticket for $75. Thinking he could weasel his way out of this situation, he decided to be a smart aleck. So, he laid $75 out on his kitchen table and took a picture of it. He enclosed the picture with the ticket receipt. The police were not amused. They sent him a reminder, asking for a check or money order. They enclosed a picture of their own: a picture of handcuffs. He got the idea and sent a check.

       The gospel today is all about waiting. Jesus seems to indicate that waiting involves a lot of work. Waiting, after all, isn't easy. Waiting requires patience, waiting involves a lot of hard work. He tells his followers to gird their loins and light their lamps. This is equivalent to saying, "put on your work clothes, and tend to your household chores." Followers of Jesus are to act like servants who are waiting for their Master's return from a wedding. If Jesus were talking to us, he might tell us to busily prepare our homes like people waiting for an important guest, someone like the President or the Pope. All of us know that waiting for visitors and guests requires a lot of patience and takes a lot of work. The more important our guests are, the more work that it takes. This means rolling up our sleeves and getting something done. Good things come to those who wait, but waiting is hard to do.

       Good things come to those who wait, and God blesses those who wait faithfully. When I was doing chaplainry work at a children's hospital in Louisville, I was paged to the ER where a family was being brought in. They were in a terrible accident; their car had been flipped over an embankment. Thankfully, the mother and her son were OK. However, her daughter was seriously injured and in a coma. I found out that this family had been on their way to visit the father of the family, incarcerated in a state prison. This family had their share of tough times, and as each day went on, they had to wait to see if she would recover. Slowly, slowly, the little girl began to stir, and after a few weeks regained consciousness. Waiting for this little girl's recovery brought their family close together. It brought her father closer to them; he was given permission to leave the prison in order to visit his daughter. After about 6 weeks, I went to visit the family in the rehab hospital to find the little girl alert and back to her normal self. I also found a family who had waited a long time to see her recover. They very aware of the blessings that God had given them; they were a family drawn closer together because of the whole ordeal.

       Abraham, the subject of today's second reading from Hebrews, knew what it was like to wait. Because of his faith, Abraham went to each place God told him to go. He would pitch his tent and tend to his family, without really knowing all the details. Abraham was willing to go along with God's plan because he was waiting to settle in an everlasting city, whose architect and maker would be God. Abraham and Sarah waited to have children; in fact, they waited until they were very old. They were thought to be sterile. Because of their faith in God's plan, God gave them the power to conceive, and in fact, to be the parents of descendents as numerous as the stars in the sky. Abraham and Sarah lived their lives in a waiting game as they faced many uncertainties. But Abraham and Sarah show us that good things come to those who wait, and God blesses those who wait faithfully.

       Good things come to those who wait; waiting is the thread that weaves the fabric of our lives. Tom Hanks proves this to be true in his depiction of Forrest Gump. As Forrest waits for the bus, he narrates his entire life to a series of listeners. As he waits, images and stories of his amazing experiences enliven the imaginations of his hearers.

       Waiting is certainly a part of our everyday existence. We wait in traffic, we wait to conceive a child, and we wait to afford a new home. Many times, we would like to get the waiting over with in order to get on with our lives. However, our readings seem to tell us that waiting is at the very core of our Christian existence. As we wait in our day to day lives, whether we are in line at the bank or in a hospital waiting room, we encounter people and situations that stretch us grow and change. All this waiting helps us to prepare for eternal life with God, when the Son of Man will come a knocking. As Christians, we wait in other ways for the coming of Jesus. Waiting for Jesus to come means getting those kids ready for Mass and wondering if we are going to get anything out of it. Waiting for Jesus to come means developing our sense of patience, so that we can direct our energy into prayer and relationships rather than to direct it into anger and hostility. Waiting for Jesus to come means paying attention to our household: to our families and friendships. And God blesses our efforts to wait. When we can see that waiting is the thread that weaves the fabric of our living, we can wait in faith as Abraham and Sarah once did. Good things come to those who wait. Indeed, for those of us who wait in faith, we will be ready to welcome the Son of Man, when he comes a knocking to take us to take us home to heaven. +

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