I hate to wait. If there’s a long line at the buffet table, I prefer to remain seated and chat with folks rather than wait more than two minutes in line. Driving–even if I have plenty of time and am not in a hurry–if the traffic is moving slowly, I anxiously seek out the best route or fastest lane to arrive at my destination sooner. And the longest hours of my childhood occurred on the afternoon of Christmas Eve when I would sit before the Christmas tree and look at the presents and wait for the hour to arrive when we could open them.
So I hear with great intensity the words of John the Baptist’s disciples when they ask Jesus, “are you the one that is to come or should we look for another? “Boy, I hope it’s you because we are tired of waiting so long for the Savior to arrive! And yet we hear St. James tell us to be patient… see how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth.
God is telling us that what we seek and long for isn’t the destination, but on the way to it. The book of Acts calls our religion “the way.” John the Baptist came to prepare the way of the Lord.” The disciples encountered the risen Lord on the way to Emmaus. Destinations are an illusion. “When I grow up…” “When I get that promotion…” “When I buy my dream house…” They are no more than signposts along the way. We are pilgrims, travelers on the way, and all we have is the present. Let’s enjoy it with all of its imperfection, because soon the future will arrive and we will long for the past. Let us tranquilly wait, without anxiety about what is to come or when we will arrive.
—Fr. Tim Howe, SJ, is president of St. Xavier High School, in Cincinnati, OH.