He is patient with you. ~2 Pt 3:9
“If God wants me to be a saint, why doesn’t he give me the grace to become one now?” This question seems to come up inevitably for those of us who have experienced at least an initial conversion in our lives. Having cooperated with God’s grace, which has sought us and found us, we respond to this gift and discover a new world of friendship with God. But then life continues. The initial progress we seemed to have been making seems to run up against a wall. We find ourselves confessing the same sins over and over again. The same situations and attitudes of others provoke the same frustration and anger within us. Nothing seems to change. Everything seems static. We want to be saints today; why doesn’t the Lord just “make it happen”?
Saint Peter in this passage from the Second Letter of his begins by allaying the concerns of the faithful as to why our Lord appears delayed in his Second Coming. The prevailing opinion at the time was that the Lord Jesus would return within the lifetime of those then alive, and when contemporaries began dying, either from persecution or natural causes, this caused concern. Why this delay? Peter offers an explanation why: “The Lord does not delay his promise, as some regard “delay,” but he is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” The Lord knows that the journey of the heart is the longest journey we make in our lives. Full conversion and sanctification are a process. While this process does contain certain moments that are critical “turning points,” much of the work of undoing the knots of sin in our lives requires years, maybe even a lifetime. This is certainly frustrating for us who want it all to be resolved in an instant, but it does clarify and important truth: the work of conversion is ultimately about the work God does on me and for me. It is accomplished in God’s time, not my own. My task, then, is to be patient and use this time to grow in my appreciation and gratitude for the patience God has with me. For when we come to a deeper sense of the boundless patience of God for us, we cannot help but transmit that patience toward ourselves and especially towards those around us.
Fr. Richard Hinkley