Homily – December 10, 2017

Recently I read a letter from a college student who had volunteered to work with our Passionists priests in Jamaica for a year. He wrote about how difficult it was to adapt to Jamaican ways especially getting used to the way Jamaicans express certain things. He used as an example the often used term, ‘soon come’. A visit from a friend, some food, some rain, some anything or anybody will ‘soon come.’ He discovered too that ‘soon come’ could mean tomorrow or next month, there was no hurry, no rush. Someone or something would eventually arrive. Soon come meant you had to wait patiently for what is to be. In our age of ‘instant coffee, instant e-mail, instant everything, this is not an easy thing to do.

Isaiah’s promised to an exiled people of a time of restoration and deliverance. His promised ‘soon come’ took over 500 years when God sent God’s son into the world not to condemn the world but to embrace our humanity. Can we see these weeks of Advent as a time of ‘soon come’? Can we be patient enough to trust that God’s grace is with us, even though is seems to take forever for that grace to transform our lives?

What might be our soon comes? What is it in our relationships that we wish was better? Do we recognize our soon come is our need for patience as we live with family members who keep forgetting they’ve told this story time and again or they keep forgetting where they left the glasses or their hearing aids?

Could our ‘come soon’ be our struggle to be more accepting of men and women of other cultures, other faiths, other lifestyles. Is our ‘come soon’ found in our struggles with alcohol or drugs, our addiction to booze or drugs or pornography, or eating?

Maybe our soon come is our impatience with how slow we seem to be when it comes to being still and spending some time in peace and quiet with God. Is our soon come our frustration with God because our prayers are not answered immediately? Maybe our soon come is in our wondering will this sermon ever end.

In one of her early books, Annie Dillard, who wrote the famous book Silent Spring, shares how she once learned a lesson, the hard way, about the importance of waiting. She had been watching a butterfly slowly emerge from its cocoon. The oh-so-slow process of transformation was fascinating, but, at a point, she grew impatient. She took a candle and heated the cocoon, though only slightly, in order to speed up things. It worked. The butterfly emerged a bit more quickly, but, because the process had been unnaturally rushed, it was born with wings that were not properly formed and it was not able to fly.

The lesson wasn’t lost on Dillard. She understood immediately what was wrong, she had short-circuited the soon come of the butterfly. The secret behind our soon come is patience, waiting for peace, love, acceptance, forgiveness, waiting for our advent to end so that Christ can come into our lives. The Jamaican ‘soon come’ calls us to be patient! Learn to wait—for everything: each other, love, happiness, for God.