Spring never comes soon enough for me, or most people I know. After that brief bit of confusion – when we had three days of summer – now we have days of sun that are not hot, days of rain that are not cold, all the other things that make flowers bloom, and leave us wondering whether we will need a jacket before we come home. We can laugh about our impatience now that spring has arrived.
If there is one thing I hear most often lamented in the confessional, it is the lack of patience. That takes many forms, of course, but we all recognize it as a failure to love, a failure that frustrates us. And so it struck me recently when our Holy Father Pope Francis identified the Divine Mercy with patience:
God’s patience has to call forth in us the courage to return to him, however many mistakes and sins there may be in our life. Jesus tells Thomas to put his hand in the wounds of his hands and his feet, and in his side. We too can enter into the wounds of Jesus; we can actually touch him. This happens every time that we receive the sacraments with faith. … This is important: the courage to trust in Jesus’ mercy, to trust in his patience, to seek refuge always in the wounds of his love. Saint Bernard even states: "So what if my conscience gnaws at me for my many sins? ‘Where sin has abounded, there grace has abounded all the more’ (Rom 5:20)" (ibid.). Maybe someone among us here is thinking: my sin is so great, I am as far from God as the younger son in the parable, my unbelief is like that of Thomas; I don’t have the courage to go back, to believe that God can welcome me and that he is waiting for me, of all people. But God is indeed waiting for you; he asks of you only the courage to go to him. … For God, we are not numbers, we are important, indeed we are the most important thing to him; even if we are sinners, we are what is closest to his heart.
In my own life, I have so often seen God’s merciful countenance, his patience; I have also seen so many people find the courage to enter the wounds of Jesus by saying to him: Lord, I am here, accept my poverty, hide my sin in your wounds, wash it away with your blood. And I have always seen that God did just this – he accepted them, consoled them, cleansed them, loved them.
Dear brothers and sisters, let us be enveloped by the mercy of God; let us trust in his patience, which always gives us more time. Let us find the courage to return to his house, to dwell in his loving wounds, allowing ourselves be loved by him and to encounter his mercy in the sacraments. We will feel his wonderful tenderness, we will feel his embrace, and we too will become more capable of mercy, patience, forgiveness and love.
It will not make the spring come any more quickly, but to experience the mercy of God is the best lesson we can have in patience. Believe it; He is waiting for you, but not tapping his foot or counting the minutes, only yearning for the moment when he can pour into you His patient mercy and delight that you have come. And to rejoice in the patience of God is the best way for us to grow in it ourselves.