“It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready…” (Luke 12:38)

 There is a story told about a young man and an old preacher. The young man had lost his job and didn’t know which way to turn. So, he went to see the old preacher. Pacing about the preacher’s study, the young man ranted about his problem. Finally, he clenched his fist and shouted, “I’ve begged God to say something to help me. Tell me, Preacher, why doesn’t God answer?” The old preacher, who sat across the room, spoke something in reply – something so hushed, it was indistinguishable. The young man stepped across the room. “What did you say?” he asked. The preacher repeated himself, but again in a tone as soft as a whisper. So, the young man moved closer until he was leaning on the preacher’s chair. “Sorry,” he said. “I still didn’t hear you.” With their heads bent together, the old preacher spoke once more. “God sometimes whispers,” he said, “so that we will move closer to hear Him.” This time the young man heard, and he understood.

We all want God’s voice to thunder through the air with the answer to our problem. But God’s is the still, small voice… the gentle whisper. Perhaps there’s a reason. Nothing draws human focus quite like a whisper. God’s whisper means I must stop my ranting and move close to Him, until my head is bent together with His. Then, as I listen, I will find my answer. Better still, I find myself closer to God. Today is the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time. The Scripture Readings of today speak of God’s kindness and His saving presence amidst trials and afflictions.

All the sayings in this passage are about waiting. This is a difficult metaphor for us today, because in our culture we experience waiting as something negative. “I am waiting” means that I am doing nothing and furthermore that I resent it: “How could you keep me waiting?”

For the Bible, however – and this is good common sense – waiting is a creative moment, or at least can be if we enter freely into it. When I wait for others, I give them the space to be themselves, paying them the respect of letting them exercise their creativity, and I do it not with indifference or grudgingly, but with love, so that we can walk together in solidarity and mutual enrichment.

To wait for God is, then, to say to him that we know he is at work, and we are prepared to let him carry ours in his loving purpose when and how he pleases. At times, of course, we become impatient, and even panic and cry out, “How long, O Lord!” But at other times, we feel able to make our act of adoration and tell God that we are willing to wait for him. Patience is not the ability to wait but the ability to keep good attitude while waiting.

The moment is also creative for ourselves. When we wait, our latent tendencies to dominate and manipulate come to the surface, so that we are open to experiencing this as a moment of grace – we will go beyond these evil tendencies and enter that deep inner space where we are in trusting communion with God and with one another; free in ourselves and allowing others to be free.

Fr. Charles Chidiebere Mmaduekwe