Have you become drowsy or lazy? Are you looking for someone to save you from the consequences of your choices? Are you looking for someone to blame for the position you put yourself in? Is it easier to live like a victim than to acknowledge the choices that you have made?
This parable of the attendants waiting for the bridegroom, that we hear on the 32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time, paints an old scenario. There’s no wedding party bus or a set of rooms set aside at a hotel. This parable draws us back into a scenario about being ready and attentive, no matter how history has changed the circumstances.
Just think of a relationship or situation in your life in which you are being called to wait patiently and attentively. First of all, most of us aren’t good at waiting, because we usually don’t have to wait. We get very little practice at it, so when we have to wait, we find all kinds of things to divert our attention from the waiting, or we fall asleep in the waiting. We try to rush the outcome to get back to what we would choose to do with this time.
Waiting is a gift we can give to others, showing our understanding of their importance or the importance of what might be coming. A choice not to wait when it is called for usually ends in regret. We look back at what could have been and rue the day we didn’t give it that extra minute, day, week or year for it to be fulfilled. Waiting can go on too long. We wait for something that will not happen or someone who will not come, hoping that someone else will make the tough choices we know we need to make.
Attentive waiting is even more difficult. Not only are we called on to put aside anything else we could be doing, but we are asked to be in readiness, attentiveness and preparedness. It calls for freshness and reliability, faithfulness and trust. The one who said he/she is coming will be faithful to their promise. We have to trust that what or who we are waiting for is worth the wait, for them or us.
Rushed choices or overly prolonged choices are a great source of regret. The reading from the Book of Wisdom offers us guidance about choices and how to do them well. “Whoever keeps vigil for her (Wisdom) shall quickly be free from care; she makes her rounds seeking those worthy of her, and graciously appears to them, meets them with all solicitude.” Times of quiet meditation and silent openness till the soil in readiness for Wisdom. We must acknowledge that there is one wiser than ourselves who wants to help us. Anticipation, readiness, expectation, confidence, and humility will prepare us and help us wait for the coming of the gift that God has to give us. It is not our time. It is God’s time.
Take some time to notice the places in your life where you are finding it difficult to wait in hopeful expectation. Practice patience and humility through waiting. Allow time to pass. Listen and learn. Wisdom seeks you out.
Father Wester is pastor of All Saints Parish in St. Peters.