St. Michael's Parish - Cobourg

                                            Patience, patience, patience                        -Homily July 6, 2014

 

Maybe you have heard the story of the farmer and his donkey. It says:

“One day a farmer’s donkey fell into a well. The animal cried heavily for hours as the farmer tried to find some solution to rescue the poor animal.

Finally, the farmer decided that the donkey was old and the well was dry and needed to be covered anyway; really the donkey was not worthy to be saved.

He asked all his neighbours to come and help. Each one grabbed a shovel and began to throw dirt into the well. The donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly.

Then, to everyone’s surprise, he calmed down after a few shovels of dirt.

The farmer finally looked down the well and was astonished at what he saw... With each shovel of dirt, the donkey was doing something amazing: The donkey shook the earth off and stepped on the land.

Very soon everyone was surprised how the donkey came to the mouth of the well, stepped over the edge and left alive...

Life will throw you dirt, all kinds of dirt... the trick is to shake it off and use it to step up. Each of our troubles is a step up. We can get out of the deepest well if we do not give up...”

 

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Today Jesus said to us in the Gospel: “my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:30). And He invited us to go to Him, who is meek and humble in heart to find rest for our souls. Meekness, humility, patience are beautiful virtues. We will try to say something about patience.

 

What is patience?

Fulton Sheen said: “Patience is power. Patience is not an absence of action; rather it is ‘timing’, it waits on the right time to act, for the right principles and in the right way.”

Saint Augustine said: “A man’s patience it is, to bear evil with an equal steady, i.e. without being disturbed by sorrow, lest he abandon with an unequal mind the goods whereby he may advance to better things”.

And continued: “properly speaking those are patient who would rather bear evils without inflicting them, than inflict them without bearing them. As for those who bear evils that they may inflict evil, their patience is neither marvelous nor praiseworthy, for it is no patience at all: we may marvel at their hardness of heart, but we must refuse to call them patient.”

Pope Francis said: “patience is not resignation, it is something quite different. Patience means bearing the things of life, the things that are not good, the bad things, things that we do not want. This patience will cause our lives to mature. Those who have no patience instead want everything at once, all in a hurry. Those who do not know the wisdom of this patience are whimsical people, who end up behaving like naughty children who say: ‘I want this, I want that, I do not like this’, and are never satisfied with anything”. He continued: “the person who has no patience is a person who will not grow, who remains with the whims of children, not knowing how to take life as it comes, and can only say ‘either this or nothing!’”

 

What kind of hardships can we bear with patience?

Patience is said to have a perfect work in bearing hardships: for these give rise first to sorrow, secondly, to anger, thirdly, to hatred, fourthly, to unjust injury.

For this reason according to Gregory “patience is the root and safeguard of all the virtues”, and Jesus said to us: “By your patience you will secure your lives” (Luke 21:19).

 

Some examples of patience

1. We can read in the Bible the story of Job. He was an oriental chieftain, pious and upright, richly endowed in his own person and in domestic prosperity. He suffers a sudden and complete reversal of fortune. He loses his property and his children; a loathsome disease afflicts his body; and sorrow oppresses his soul. Nevertheless, Job does not complain against God. He was a patient man.

2. The patience of God.

Pope Francis said: “When the Lord intervenes he does not always do so in the same way. There is no ‘set protocol’ for God’s action in our life... it does not exist. He intervenes in one way, later in another… but he always intervenes”. “The Lord always chooses his way to enter into our lives. Often he does so slowly, so slowly that we are in danger of losing our patience a little. But Lord, when?

“The Lord takes his time. But even he, in this relationship with us, has a lot of patience. He waits for us! And he waits for us until the end of life! Think of the good thief, right at the end, at the very end, he acknowledged God. The Lord walks with us, but often does not reveal himself, as in the case of the disciples of Emmaus. The Lord is involved in our lives -that’s for sure!- But often we do not see. This demands our patience. But the Lord who walks with us, also has a lot of patience with us”.

3. The patience of Jesus.

We can see in many moments of His Life: in His words, in His teaching. His patience with His enemies, His patience with sinners, His patience with His friends, the Apostles.

I like to think of His patience while He is carrying the Cross. He knows the end, He knows that He will died on the Cross for the salvation of the world, He knows that many people will reject Him, but, He continues carrying His Cross until the end.

And on the Cross He heard people challenging him: “Come down, come down!”. Patience until the end, because He has patience with us. He always enters, He is involved with us, but He does so in His own way and when He thinks it’s best.

 

Conclusion

God’s patience is a mystery and it can be seen in Jesus’ attitude to us.

We must learn from Jesus, and we must try to be patient.

Pope Francis said to the Bishops -and this is useful for all of us- “There are five virtues of a bishop: first patience, second patience, third patience, fourth patience, and last, patience with those who invite us to have patience.”

Let Our Lady help us today to be a patient person, to have patience to listen, patience to talk, patience to bear hardships and patience to do beautiful things every day.    –Fr. Higinio