“Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You too must be patient. Make your hearts firm, because the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not complain, brothers, about one another, that you may not be judged. Behold, the Judge is standing before the gates. Take as an example of hardship and patience, brothers, the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Indeed we call blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of the perseverance of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, because “the Lord is compassionate and merciful.” (James 5:7-11)
The admonition above, from the letter of James, is as applicable now as it was in the first century to Christians around the world. The prophets are held up as living examples of patience and perseverance as those who “spoke in the name of the Lord”. In baptism, we receive a share in the prophetic role of Christ in addition to the roles of priest and king. While we do not meet with the same resistance and persecution as the prophets of old, we must be on guard against being judgmental and defensive as we evangelize. Striking an adversarial posture as we proclaim the truths of our faith will dilute the message of God’s compassion and mercy, and potentially turn people away from the good news that is the Gospel. Saint Peter offers these encouraging words to those who are maligned for preaching God’s word:
“Now who is going to harm you if you are enthusiastic for what is good? But even if you should suffer because of righteousness, blessed are you. Do not be afraid or terrified with fear of them, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that be the will of God, than for doing evil. (1Peter 3:13-17)
Let us pray for the grace to discern God’s will in our lives, and to carry out our particular mission with patience, especially during the hardships that will inevitably come our way.