Fulfilling a Promise

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Illustration by Frank Kacmarcik, OblSB, Saint John's Abbey, Collegeville, Minnesota. Used with permission.

When God makes promises in Scripture, usually they don’t come with a tight timeline. Sure, the angelic visitors give an “estimated time of arrival” when they tell Abraham that his wife will have a child by this time next year. But a more typical scenario is the people of Israel wandering in the desert for forty years before getting to the Promised Land. They wait generation upon generation for the coming of the Messiah. And yet, every now and again, we are given the word that God’s time is finally here. God’s time is now. With the somersault of baby John the Baptist in the womb of Elizabeth, we are given notice: finally, the Messiah has come into our world, even if we can’t see him yet.  

It takes a lot of faith to wait on God. God makes promises of mercy, promises of goodness, promises of love, but sometimes we have to wait a long time to see their fulfillment. I marvel at societies that can think in terms of waiting generations for God’s vindication, when I can hardly wait a few days, weeks, months, or a year. It can be difficult not to lose hope when faced with disappointment and hardship that just seem to go on.  

Nonetheless, we are asked to be patient and to trust in the mercy of God. Even if evil and darkness have their sway today, God is trustworthy. Christ is coming again, and if we pay attention, the first hints of the fulfillment of his promises invite us to rejoice.  

© Liturgical Press.

Sr. Jeana Visel

Jeana Visel, OSB, is a Benedictine sister of Monastery Immaculate Conception in Ferdinand, Indiana. She works at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology and is author of Icons in the Western Church.

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