Being Patient With People

Social life today is like a fast-moving train. There is a mad rush for almost everything. This has made contemporary life too competitive and very difficult as people struggle to succeed at all costs. Yet the old adage remains valid: slow and steady wins the race. Because we are always in a hurry, we tend to complain at every slight provocation as we remain generally impatient with people and situations. The theme of patience in today’s readings rings a concordant note. Amidst the hustle and bustle of life, we are urged to be patient with one another and to show mercy and kindness when things appear not to dance to our tune or move as we expect.

Don’t Grumble against One Another

In the first liturgical reading of today from the letter of James 5:9-12, the author urges his audience not to grumble, but to bear all situations with patience. The term grumbling, used to render the Greek verb stenazō, in this context can also be understood as murmur, complain or grudge. The author recognizes the fact that life often presents frustrating moments. He recognizes that sometimes those who remain innocent appear to be losing while the evil ones seem to triumph. In the face of such absurdities, one should always remain calm and patient. It is God that will judge the world not human beings. When we lose patience, there is the danger of losing the reward that awaits us. The author of James uses the life of the biblical Job as an example of patient trust in God in the midst of affliction.

Learning from God’s Merciful and Kind Approach

In the face of life’s challenges, we have a good model to follow. God Himself invites us to imitate Him as He is ever patient with us, being slow to anger and ever merciful and kind. This is the point of Psalm 103:8-12 as it describes God’s mercy and kindness concretely in the fact that He abounds in love. He does not readily accuse but excuses us in our faults. He does not treat us as our sins deserve but gives us ceaseless opportunities to repent.

If we can apply such kind of mercy and kindness in our relationships, we shall have less cause to grumble, and marriage problems and separations would drastically decrease. Many families today are torn apart by one form of crisis or the other, and much of these boil down to lack of patience and forgiving spirit.

Jesus himself tells his interlocutors in the Gospel of today from Mark 10:1-12 that it was the hardness of heart that made divorce possible in the old law, as it was not originally so at creation. Consequently, he takes the hard line of excluding any form of divorce from a validly contracted marriage. The new dispensation preaches endurance, tolerance, and mercy even in the midst of great offences. The antidote to many problems of marriage today is the readiness to bear with one another in patience. A patient approach to issues may appear too slow for a fast-moving society, but it remains a most viable way of remaining in harmony. Patience emanates from love, and the one who loves, endures all things.

[Readings: Jas 5:9-12; Mk 10:1-12]

Fr. Luke Ijezie

Rev. Fr. Dr. Luke Emehiele Ijezie comes from Amucha in the Imo State of Nigeria. He is a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Orlu, Nigeria, and ordained a priest on 24th September 1988. With a Licentiate and Doctorate in Sacred Scripture (SSL, Biblicum, Rome, 1995, STD, Gregorian University, Rome, 2005), he has since 2006 been a lecturer in Sacred Scripture and Biblical Languages at the Catholic Institute of West Africa (CIWA), Port Harcourt, Nigeria. He is the national secretary of the Catholic Biblical Association of Nigeria (CABAN) and executive member of the Association of African Theologians (ATA), a member of various professional associations, among which are the Catholic Biblical Association of America (CBA) and the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL). He is the author of numerous publications. Contact: Catholic Institute of West Africa (CIWA), Port Harcourt emehiele@yahoo.com

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