On Tuesday night, I was at home with my parents. They were watching one of those dancing competition shows on the TV. It’s not something I usually watch, and I was actually playing a puzzle game on my iPad at the time, but the show drew my attention from time to time. It was an episode where the judges announced which couples were staying for the next level of competition and which ones were being knocked off the show. When it came time to make the actual announcement, they’d pause and let music play for a while, as the nervous couples fidgeted on the stage and people in the audience whispered and waited on the edges of their seats. There was no practical reason for the delay; it was just for dramatic effect. It made the final revelation of each decision that much more exciting and intense. Directors use the same technique in movies and TV shows all the time. When it comes to entertainment, we enjoy the slow build-up and suspense.
Generally speaking, it’s not so in real life when we deal with really important matters. We want to know both good and bad news sooner than later, and when we request some kind of service, we want same-day delivery as often as possible. Nonetheless, our readings today suggest that, when dealing with God, we have to be patient and trusting. He will act in His own time, and He promises it will be worth the wait.
The first reading deals with deferred justice. Sometimes we look at the world around us and see that “evildoers prosper” while good people have to struggle to get by. God promises that the day will come when justice will be done. As the Psalm emphasizes, those who hope in the Lord and strive to do what is right will receive a bounteous reward, whereas those who are defiant of God’s commands will be severely punished.
The Gospel takes a more affirmative approach. Jesus encourages us to ask God insistently for what we need, and assures us that our Heavenly Father will heed and answer our petitions. We have to be patient and persistent in our prayers, but also full of hope and confidence in God’s goodness. Yet, Jesus does not promise that God will give us exactly what we ask for. He only specifically mentions that the Father will give us the Holy Spirit. In other words, our prayers will always be answered, but maybe not the way we expect. We will receive what God knows is truly good for us, so we also need to ask for the Holy Spirit’s light so we will know how to recognize and accept God’s answer when we receive it.
When God makes us wait, it is not for dramatic effect, like on a TV show. Rather, it is because the wait is in some way good for us and for other people involved. Today, may God grant us patience, hope, and confidence in His goodness and love. May we be persistent in loving and serving God, and constant and trusting in prayer. May the Father send us the Holy Spirit to enable us to know what to pray for, and to recognize and appreciate His replies.