July 31 - August 1, 2000
volume 11, no. 128

The Holy Father's General Wednesday Audience in THE VICAR OF CHRIST SPEAKS for July 31 - August 1, 2000
Watch, Wait, and Be Patient

    1. "O that You would rend the Heavens and come down!" Isaiah's (63,19) great invocation, which summarizes well the expectation of God present first of all in the history of the biblical Israel, but also in the heart of every human being, has not fallen into nothingness. God has crossed the threshold of His transcendence: through His Son Jesus Christ he has placed himself on our roads, and His Spirit of life and love has penetrated the heart of His creatures. He does not allow Himself to wander far from our ways nor does He let our heart be hardened forever (Cf. Isaiah 63,17). In Christ, God comes close to us, especially when our "face is downcast," and now, with the warmth of His word, as happened to the disciples of Emmaus, our heart begins to burn in our breast (Cf. Luke 24, 17.32). However, God's passage is mysterious and to be discovered requires pure eyes and ears ready to listen.

    2. From this perspective, today we will focus today on two fundamental attitudes that must be adopted in relation to the God-Emmanuel Who decided to meet us be it in space and time or in the intimacy of His heart. The first attitude is that of expectation, which is well illustrated in the passage from Mark's Gospel that we heard earlier (Cf. Mark 13,33-37). In the original Greek we find three imperatives that articulate this attitude. The first is: "Be attentive," literally: "Look, take care!" "Attention," as the word itself indicates, means to tend towards, to stretch out to a reality with the whole soul. It is the opposite of distraction, which is, unfortunately, our almost habitual condition, especially in a frenetic and superficial society like today's. It is difficult to concentrate on an objective, a value, and pursue it with fidelity and coherence. We risk doing this also with God Who, becoming flesh, came to us to become the pole star of our existence.

    3. The imperative of attention is followed by that of "Be alert," which in the Gospel's original Greek means to "Stay awake." The temptation to allow oneself to fall asleep is strong, wrapped in the coils of the dark night, which in the Bible is a symbol of fault, inertia, rejection of the light. Thus, we understand the Apostle Paul's exhortation: "But you are not in darkness, brethren... For you are all sons of light and sons of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober" (1 Thessalonians 5,4-6). Only by freeing ourselves from the obscure attraction of darkness and evil will we succeed in finding the Father of lights, "with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change" (James 1, 17).

    4, There is a third imperative repeated twice with the same Greek verb: "Watch!" It is the verb of the watchman who must be on the alert,while he waits patiently for the passing of night time to see the light of dawn rising over the horizon. The prophet Isaiah represents this long wait intensely and vividly, by introducing a dialogue between two watchmen, which becomes a symbol of the correct use of time: "Watchman, what of the night? The watchman says: Morning comes, and also the night. If you will inquire,inquire; come back again!" (Isaiah 21, 11-12).

        It is necessary to ask ourselves, to be converted, and to go out to meet the Lord. Christ's three calls: "Pay attention, stay awake, watch!" summarize limpidly the Christian waiting for the meeting with the Lord. The waiting must be patient, as St. James admonishes in his Letter: "Be patient until the coming of the Lord. Behold, the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient over it until it receives the early and the late rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand" (James 5,7-8). The growth of a stalk of grain or the blossoming of a flower are times that cannot be forced; the birth of a human child takes nine months; to write a book or music of quality it is also necessary to spend years in patient research. This is also the law of the spirit. "All that is frenetic will soon pass," a poet sang (R.M. Rilke, "Sonnets of Orpheus"). For the meeting with mystery there must be patience, interior purification, silence, waiting.

    5. Earlier we spoke of two spiritual attitudes to discover God who comes toward us. The second, after the alert and watchful waiting, is that of wonder and marvel. We must open our eyes to admire God who hides himself and at the same time shows himself in things and introduces us into the realms of mystery. Our technological culture, and even more so, excessive immersion in material realities, often impede us from grasping the hidden face of things. In reality, for those who know how to read profoundly, each thing, each event carries a message that, in the final analysis, leads to God. The revealed signs of God's presence, therefore, are multiple. But, in order not to miss them, we must be pure and simple like children (Cf. Matthew 18,3-4), capable of admiring, being astonished, of marvelling, and being enchanted by the divine gestures of love and closeness we witness. In a certain sense, we can apply to the fabric of daily life what Vatican Council II said regarding God's great plan through the revelation of his Word." In his great love, the invisible God speaks to men and women as friends and dwells with them, to invite them and admit them to communion with him" (Dei Verbum, n. 2). (ZENIT Translation) ZE00072820

July 31 - August 1, 2000
volume 11, no. 128

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