The Peculiar Virtue of Patience

Patience is an odd virtue, and hard to practice, because the best way to “do” it is by “not doing” anything.

Mary Beth Baker
19.12.2013 // PRINT
Batai
Advent is a good time to reflect on patience. It’s an odd virtue, and hard to practice, because the best way to “do” it is by “not doing” anything. Practicing this virtue reminds us that we give most glory to God–we become most fully who we’re meant to be–when we stop focusing solely on doing and work on being.

That’s what Advent is all about, isn’t it? “The world in solemn stillness lay,” we hear in the old Christmas hymn. And we in solemn stillness lie in Advent, waiting…waiting…waiting. Not doing anything, because there is nothing we can do. We can only wait. We can only be.

I recently heard a woman say, “I believe we live our whole lives in Advent.” I agree with her.  Something in the human heart rises up in affirmation during this season. We recognize it as being a fuller expression of who we are all the time. And of course, we have to draw the connection to singlehood. Aren’t we singles in a particularly poignant Advent? Christ was born of Mary, and He shaped her life from that moment on. He was the little boy who needed to be fed, clothed, cared for. He was her “vocation” in a fuller sense than He is anyone else’s. But we in this single phase of life are still waiting for our vocations to take “flesh” and be lived out. We’re waiting for the coming of Christ in our lives in that way.

The practice of patience is always a challenge. But somehow in Advent it’s always a little easier. Fulfillment no longer seems a lifetime away. You can count its coming in days, in the lit candles of the Advent wreath. A little while longer, and He will be with us. Patience. Christ is coming.

Originally published by Life in the Gap.

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New Testament at Ecole biblique et archéologique française de Jérusalem

Emeritus professor of New Testament at Ecole biblique et archéologique française de Jérusalem

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