The word “patience” appears three times in the brief passage from the letter of James, which forms our second reading this weekend. Patience is called for in view of the delay in the Lord’s return, but also because of the trials incurred by members of the community James is writing to at the hands of the rich. Furthermore, there are trials from the interpersonal relations of daily life, something which I am sure every one of us can relate to!
In all of this, James’ audience is assured that the Lord is at hand, that his coming is imminent. And he comes as a judge who will set the record straight in any matter of injustice. James’ illustrative comparisons appear frequently in his letter. In our passage this weekend, he urges his listeners to be as patient as the Palestinian farmers for whom the fall and spring rains provide essential and much anticipated moisture. They should look to the biblical prophets for examples of patient endurance.
Persecuted Christians form part of a long and illustrious tradition. Suffering is transitory; it will fade into insignificance with the full manifestation of the Lord’s justice at his coming at the end of time. What situations of injustice and frustration do you face where your patience is regularly tested? How might thinking of the return of the Lord, and trusting in his final vindication, help you to patiently put up with these situations right now?