Firewood for the Soul: Advent is patience in a world of impatience

by | Dec 4, 2023 | Formation

Advent is patience. It’s how God has made us a people of promise, in a world of impatience.


There’s something odd about Advent. It is a season of living between what has already come and what is yet to come. What has been fulfilled and what is yet to be fulfilled. It is a time of waiting.

We live with uncertainty. While we can live our lives according to routines, work schedules, and busy calendars, the unknown is always in the background. It can be exciting to be surprised by unexpected events, or it can feel threatening or fearful. In many ways, we are on constant alert to the reality of constant change.

At the beginning of Advent, scripture tells us to stay awake and be alert in our faith. Why does Jesus tell us to keep alert in faith? Is it because he wants us to be filled with fear, be anxious, or be worried? Not at all. He wants us to be watchful because he knows how easy it is for the human heart to fall asleep. If we are not careful, we will gradually fall asleep and grow distant in faith.

The Scriptures speak also from the perspective that we are living in so-called “end times,” waiting for the second coming of Christ. This eschatological reality embraces the fact that for two thousand years, the Kingdom of God has been constantly unfolding and is very real in the here and now. Millions upon millions of people have heard the good news of Jesus Christ so the Kingdom of God has slowly begun to take root. We wouldn’t be here if it hadn’t. We cannot forget to acknowledge the signs of the Kingdom that are already present among us. It is built by the works of our hands, as well as by the constant movements of the Holy Spirit active in the world.

During this time of Advent, we make a very clear point to stick to our faithfulness and sincerely put it into practice. Be alert and stay awake. God’s promises are very real. We can observe this presence daily. We see this in each other, in our actions, in our words, in our witness, in our living and our dying, and in the uncertainty of every day.

In the Christian tradition, the Kingdom will reach its fulfilment at the Second Coming of Jesus. We can focus on that seemingly abstract, future event. However, let us not miss the signs of the Kingdom already present among us and the tasks for which we have been entrusted. As we embark on our Advent journey, let us listen and be attentive. Let us be awake to what God already is and what is yet to come so that we can recognise the presence of Jesus among us and welcome him in each other.

From: Firewood for the soul, vol. 2, A Reflection Book for the Whole Vincentian Family
St. Vincent de Paul Society, Queensland, Australia.
Text by: Samantha Hill & James Hodge.