Last week I was struck whilst listening to Fr Leo’s homily about how much time we spend waiting and how Advent is a time of waiting. As a result, I asked myself – am I good at waiting? How do I wait? I recognise that I am not a very patient person; I can become very frustrated, extremely quickly.

I look back at the times I sat in the car around this time of year with my two brothers outside a large department store in Glasgow; waiting for our parents to come out. Now I realise that they were ensuring we had a good Christmas Day, but back then I got so frustrated at how they would leave us in the car for so long and how selfish I thought they were. If only I knew then what I know now! That department store was the number one place in Glasgow for being able to buy things now and pay later; my parents were going into debt to ensure that my brothers and I had something to open on Christmas morning.

I also remember a conversation I had with my late father when I said that I couldn’t wait for our children to grow up and find their own place. He advised me not to wish my life away and that when the children did leave, the house will become so quiet. My Dad was not one for showing emotion or for letting anyone see signs of weakness and for me this was a time when he opened up a little bit to let me see what was inside this hard working Glaswegian that I called Dad.

Waiting is part of life and with it we get an insight into whether we are able to practice patience, one of the twelve gifts of the Holy Spirit (CCC 736).1 Patience is also listed as one of the seven Heavenly Virtues which were proposed to counteract the seven deadly sins.2 My behaviours suggest to me that I do not exercise the gift of patience very well and that I need to try harder.

Advent is a time of waiting with patience and we have a flavour of that in today’s second reading which comes from the second letter of St Peter. He tells his readers that ‘for God a day can mean a thousand years or a thousand years can seem like a day’. For God is timeless; He is eternal. St Peter also tells us that God has shown us patience because He does not want any of us to be lost; He wants us to change our ways. God is a patient Father to us, encouraging us to grow, encouraging us to do the right thing; encouraging us to love as He loves. St Peter goes on to tell us that we are waiting for what Jesus promised us a new heaven and a new earth, which is truly awesome.

Our Gospel takes us back to the beginning of St Mark’s Gospel. He starts by quoting the prophet Isaiah, who is used extensively in the Church’s readings during Advent; both in our scripture readings at Mass and in the Office of the Church. The passage quoted tells us to ‘prepare a way for the Lord’. St Mark then links this to St John the Baptist as the voice that cried in the wilderness; he was the one sent by God to prepare the path for Jesus.

Whenever we feel impatient or downhearted, we should think about what the emotions experienced by those who heard that John the Baptist was not the Messiah. They may have had great hopes that the Messiah was finally here, but John said that he himself was not the Messiah and that the one who he was preparing the path for was far greater than he; so much so that he would be unfit to undo the strap of his sandal. How might that have left them feeling? Angry? Frustrated? Excited? I guess we will never know.

As we get closer to Christmas, how are our preparations going? Are we ready to meet the Lord? How has our prayer life been this Advent? Have we made any extra time for God? Typically during Advent and Lent I switch off the Social Media and say more of the prayers from the Office of the Church, so far I have managed to do this, despite the plethora of notifications which the Social Media companies send.

I have also been taking part in some of the messages from the Injustice Advent Calendar3 campaign which I mentioned a couple of weeks ago. One of the campaigns asks us to reconsider what we use in terms of plastics; highlighting how a lot of plastic waste is dumped in the developing world and how this harms the local residents. Small changes are advocated which when accumulated can make a massive difference. Our small offerings of help when done together can make a difference. For me this is summed up well in the prayer over the Offerings this Sunday.

Be pleased, O Lord, with our humble prayers and offerings, and, since we have no merits to plead our cause, come we pray, to our rescue with the protection of your mercy. Through Christ our Lord.

I say Amen to that!

Please keep in your prayers this week

  • Our doctors, nurses, medical staff and care workers, unpaid carers, and all other keyworkers, that their efforts will result in more people recovering from the virus.
  • Our priests and others who live alone; as we continue with the Covid restrictions, may we be sensitive to their needs.
  • Those recovering from operations, that they avoid infection and make a strong recovery.
  • For those contemplating going into debt to pay for Christmas, that they will avoid making any rash decisions.
  • For those in debt whose outlook at this time is bleak and lacking hope; that this Christmas their faith in God and their fellow man is restored.
  • Those looking for work at this time, that their efforts will be rewarded.
  • Those planning Christmas get togethers, that their plans do not put anyone else at risk.
  • Those who do not believe in God, that this time of pandemic will be a time when they turn to him for help and realise that God still believes in them.

Deacon Tony Darroch, 5th December 2020.

If you are struggling to find resources or would like suggestions please email me on adarroch@portsmouthdiocese.org.uk or if you would appreciate the odd call from me during this time please send me a message with your contact details and I will get in touch.

1 Catechism of the Catholic Church, (Bloomsbury, London, 2014) CCC736 page 170

2 The Spiritual Life, The Seven Catholic Virtues, available fromhttps://slife.org/the-seven-catholic-virtues/#:~:text=Seven%20heavenly%20virtues.%201%20Chastity.%20Abstaining%20from%20sexual,3%20Charity.%204%20Diligence.%205%20Patience.%20More%20items accessed 5th December 2020.

3 https://traidcraftexchange.org/injustice-advent-calendar