To be a Christian is to live in patient expectation

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‘Patience Obtains All Things’


When we celebrate the Eucharist, when Quakers convene only to sit in silence and when the Amish shun technology that would accelerate the rhythms of life, we are all doing what Jesus did when he found communion with his Father in prayer. We are living out, giving expression to a fundamental character of our Christian faith. It is an eschatological orientation.

Eschatos is the New Testament’s word for what comes last, for what is final. Jesus taught that what surrounds us is fleeting. Hence his parable about storing treasure not here but in the life that is to come. Christ personally witnessed to this with his freely accepted death on the cross. To be a Christian is to embrace the teaching and witness of Christ.

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All wise ones know, like the author of Ecclesiasticus, that the world rushes toward us only to race past us.

Many of the world’s wisdoms remind us that all things must pass. In his teaching and life, our Lord proclaimed and produced something more. He said that the flux we call history, the rush of our daily lives, is moving toward a purposeful conclusion, a gathering in of grace and comfort, which he called the kingdom of God. In his resurrection from the dead, this kingdom broke into history, decisively yet only to a degree. Had it come completely, what we call history and the lives we have been given to live would already be at an end.

This is why eschatology, the study of end times, is fundamental to our identity as Christians. All wise ones know, like the author of Ecclesiasticus, that the world rushes toward us only to race past us. However, in his death and his resurrection Christ has summoned our whizzing world to himself.

You cannot be a Christian and not live an eschatological life, which is to say, you must live one marked by a patient expectation in the promise and plan of Jesus.

Eschatology is an extraordinary word. If you would like a simple substitute, try “patience.” You cannot be a Christian and not live an eschatological life, which is to say, you must live one marked by a patient expectation in the promise and plan of Jesus. One can be spiritual without being religious, but one cannot be Christian without engaging in eschatological activity, which is anything that appears as folly save to those patiently awaiting their Lord.

St. Paul told the Colossians:

Brothers and sisters:
If you were raised with Christ, seek what is above,
where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.
Think of what is above, not of what is on earth.
For you have died,
and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
When Christ your life appears,
then you too will appear with him in glory (3:1-4).

In the eyes of the world, nothing is accomplished when we gather for Eucharist. We only fulfill the command that our Lord gave to us the night before he died when he revealed that in his life and death the fate of the world had been contested and conquered.

To sit in Quaker silence is to insist that nothing more needs to be said. The Amish do not disdain the modern world; they find delight in their share of the kingdom. When some Christians embrace the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience, they give witness that their lives are rushing toward the loveliest and the everlasting.

To recite the Nicene or the Apostles’ Creed is to rehearse for ourselves the meaning that Christ gave to history, to our own stories. In them we are reminded that, if we give ourselves to him, our lives rush toward a radiant conclusion.

The great Carmelite mystic and doctor of the church, St. Teresa of Avila, put the need for patience in fewer words. Found in her handwriting on a card in her prayer book, they are easily memorized in their original Spanish:

Nada te turbe;
nada te espante;
todo se pasa;
Dios no se muda,
la paciencia
todo lo alcanza.
Quien a Dios tiene,
nada le falta.
Solo Dios basta.
Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.

Readings: Ecclesiasticus 1:2, 2:21-23 Colossians 3:1-5, 9-11 Luke 12:13-21

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Adeolu Ademoyo
2 weeks 5 days ago

Thank you Fr. Terrance Klein. Your essay shows the DNA of our faith, the Christian faith. This is the nature of our faith, the Christian faith. One of the names of our God, the Christian God is HOPE! This is the uniqueness of our faith. This is why for me and my family, we shall forever live in and with Christ. We shall dwell forever in the living Hope (Patient Expectation) of God in the house of God. Again, thanks Fr. Klein for this essay!

Jeanne Devine
2 weeks 5 days ago

Thank you, Father Klein. This is beautiful. It puts our lives in Godly perspective.

Maryann Eidemiller
2 weeks 4 days ago

The Amish are hardly an the example of any kind of holiness. They are the worst offenders in the horrific, cruel puppy mills industry, and their communities in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and Holmes County, Ohio, have the most and some of the worst cruel puppy mills in the country. Furthermore, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette recently ran a six-part series on the rampant sex abuse and coverups in Amish communities that, because the abusers are usually the father, grandfather or brother, makes the crimes even more ugly than the scandals in the Church. The Amish cover up their incest/sex assaults by keeping it among themselves and further victimize the victims by insisting that they forgive their abusers and never speak of it again, and that if they are abused again, they have to forgive again. And again. And forever keep their mouths shut, lest they are the ones who go to hell. That is what their famous "Amish forgiveness" is about. Do a google search of "Amish abuse" and "Amish puppy mills," and hopefully, you will never again hold them up as an icon of holiness. And yes, you can say that not all of them abuse dogs and girls, but since the communities are tight knit and everyone knows what's going on, the ones who cover it up are complicit.

Oz Jewel
2 weeks 4 days ago

You really missed the point, didn't you?
Vegan, are you?

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