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  • Writer's pictureFr. Gustavo

"Are we there yet?"

A woman grabbing her head because she can't take it anymore
Prayers for when you can take it anymore

I must confess that I am not good at waiting.  Even though I understand that waiting is part of human life, I still don’t like it.


I don’t like to wait at a traffic light – Much less that when the first in line is dozing off, and when I make to the intersection, the light has already turned red.


I don’t like to wait at the doctor’s office.  Even when the doctor is late because he or she is making a life-saving surgery.


I don’t like that whenever I line up to a fast-moving check-out lane, all of a sudden, it stops to a crawl.


I know, it is self-defeating, but here I am.  I’d like to tell you that, when I am waiting, I use my time to pray, to read the Bible, or to write my sermon, but I can’t.  I just want to keep on with life – even if it is so I can get back home to pray, to read the Bible and to write my sermon.


Now, being impatient is not only reserved for humans.  The other day Elizabeth and I were sitting at the park having a snack and we were watching a mother mockingbird bringing food to her two chicks.  They were crying as if they had not had any food for days.  When mother arrived, they quieted down – long enough to gulp down the food.  But two seconds later, their cries could be heard for miles.


As it happened, the two chicks came down from the bush.  Much to our surprise they were as large as their mother, except without their long tail.  They were well fed, indeed.  And yet…


If you had any chance to travel with you kids, I am sure you heard the dreaded, “Are we there yet?”  Ten more minutes on the ride, and then again, “Are we there yet?”


I don’t know how on the nature’s side waiting plays out.  But I can say with a great degree of certainty that most people don’t like to wait.  And, let me suggest that such experience is largely frustrating because waiting in a way it means that someone else has taken charge of our life and priorities. 


And finding ourselves out of control in such rude way reminds us of our frailty and that our power is limited.  It is like if someone suddenly pulled a mirror in front of us, and much to our horror we find out that we are naked. 


In the gospel lesson for Ascension Day – Last Thursday – St Luke recalls our Lord’s words right before his Ascension.  “I’m sending you what my Father promised.  Wait here in the city until you receive power from heaven,” (Luke 24:49).


Isn’t it possible to imagine the feeling of joy and drive after hearing our Lord’s words, “I am sending you my Father’s promised gift?”  Oh!  What a joy!  What a sense of expectation!  “Here we go!”  But then the other shoe falls, “But don’t go anywhere until you get what you need!”  Oh no!  Just keep calm and wait!


So, I feel for the disciples.  All through the last three years they had been moving all over the country.  Day after day they heard Jesus teaching and preaching.  The apostles, themselves, took their own small individual mission trips.  There was drama and joy.  Could have they been singing, “On the road again?”


And even after the big downer of the Crucifixion, then they saw the Risen Lord again back with them.  One can almost hear the adrenalin flowing through their veins, right?


But not yet.  Wait.  “But how long Lord?  Aren’t you going to restore the throne of David and are you not going to throw out the rascals out of town once and for ever?”  “Nope”, said Jesus.  “You’ll need to wait”.


Today’s lesson from the Book of Acts tells the story of the election of Matthias.  Which the apostles called for even after being told to wait.  Apostles or not, they were as impatient as we are.  And many believe – and for sure St Paul believed, that He was the true successor, and not Matthias.


As I said earlier, waiting is challenging.  It is like when the power suddenly going out.  We lose our sense of control, our plans go awry, and the perfect future that we planned for the day, goes to shambles. 


Now, I am sure that not many get frustrated as I do.  But let me guess – do you know of anyone who when his or her own power to plan and to call the shots is suddenly and unceremoniously yanked off his or her hands stands pat?


Psalm 1, offers a good lesson for us to learn.  The Psalmist proclaims that blessedness belongs to those who learn to trust in God, or as the sacred writer puts it,


“Blessed are those who realize that shortcuts are worth nothing, and in the end, rather than bringing people closer to God, they draw them further apart from the source of blessings.

“Blessed are to those who learn to be like trees growing by the waters.

“Blessed are those who learn that even being by the blessing of waters, to grow and to bear fruit requires time.


In other words, waiting upon the Lord to act, is not about how much power do we lose, but realizing how much power do we gain by allowing God to take charge, and how much we could do if we were to allow God to accomplish what is best for us.


Impatience, on the other hand, is a polite way of refusing to accept that God wishes for us the very best.  Even if it takes time to wait for the traffic light to turn green for a little longer.


No. I don’t mean not working or gaining a useful life just waiting for God.  In fact, very early on in the life of the Church, St. Paul had stern words for “navel-gazers,” “Those unwilling to work should not get to eat.”  Or, in my own translation, “Those who are waiting for God to provide their lunch, should not dip their fork into someone else’s pot.” 


For sure, there is tension between allowing God to work out things for our good and doing what needs to be done. But is God so present in our lives that we factor (!) Him in before we undertake major decisions?  Is God so present in our lives that we come to believe for a fact that God wishes the very best for us?  Not necessarily what we want, but what it may best for us?


How do we know that God wishes for us the very best?  Today’s Gospel offers us the answer, “Jesus prays for us.”


Jesus is praying for us.  Right now.  Not that we may be raptured away from the world, its pains, and its struggles, but that when the storms of life hit us with all their might, we may be sheltered under God’s loving embrace.


Jesus is praying for us.  For you.  For me.  For all of us gathered here at St. David.  For all those who have entrusted themselves to our prayers.  Even for those who couldn’t care less that Jesus is praying for them.


Jesus is praying for us when we lack the words or the energy to pray.  Jesus prays for us when we are afraid of praying.  Jesus prays for us even when in our joy for things done and for when the wind blows fair on our backs, we forget that it was not by might, but by God’s Spirit.


Jesus prays for us because he sees us as his dear friends, and as his little kid brothers and sisters.  Jesus prays for us because He realizes we are children of God’s love.  Jesus prays for us for we are family.


As I was looking for a closing prayer, I “stumbled” into a page by Pastor Susan L Davis[i], aptly titled, “Prayers for When you Want to Scream.”  Or cry!  I lightly edited one of her several prayers, as follows.  I pray that I may be a blessing for all of us.  Certainly, I need to pray in this way,


“Loving God, please give me the strength to set aside my feelings of anger and frustration when things don’t go my way.  Enable me to deal calmly with whatever comes up and not focus on the frustration.  Holy Spirit, help me develop the fruit of patience in all areas of my life, especially dealing with… (Feel free to Insert your own problem.)


Now as you pray, never forget that no matter what, and even if you forget about it, Jesus is praying for you.


Fr. Gustavo

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