Bishop’s Letter: God is always waiting for us

Apr 27, 2023

‘Beloved: If you are patient when you suffer for doing what is good, this is a grace before God.’
— 1 Pt 2:20

My Sisters and Brothers in Christ:

When I think about God, I think of one word— patient. Time and time again Scripture professes to our patient God. In every instance, we hear God does not turn away from us, even when we turn away from Him. Pope Francis said, “God is always waiting for us, He never grows tired. Jesus shows us this merciful patience of God so that we can regain confidence, hope – always! A great German theologian, Romano Guardini, said that God responds to our weakness by His patience, and this is the reason for our confidence, our hope (cf. Glaubenserkenntnis, Würzburg, 1949, p. 28). It is like a dialogue between our weakness and the patience of God, it is a dialogue that, if we do it, will grant us hope.”

God’s patience for us, His generous mercy, is offered in His pursuit of us. He does everything to tell us that He desires us; that no matter the terrible thing we have done, He will forgive us. We simply have to come to Him. God’s patience calls forth in us the courage to return to Him, however many mistakes and sins there may be in our lives.

In the Scripture I quoted from the Fourth Sunday of Easter, St. Peter urges patience to those to whom he writes—to us. He encourages the people to be patient like God. That patience means that we must endure suffering for doing what is good. At the time of Peter, he might have been speaking of the persecution those early Christians were experiencing. Yet, today, we also experience persecution, sometimes through the bullying words of one to another or from government discord with our religious belief, or by the lack of belief by family members or friends. Peter says other ways in which we patiently endure suffering are by not sinning; speak no words of deception – don’t brag or boast or belittle; do not reply insult when insulted; and make no threat when threatened. Peter reminds us that by Jesus’ wounds we are healed.

That healing comes from the forgiveness of Christ; the peace which He breathes on the apostles as they stood fearful before Him; it is the peace He granted the travelers on the road to Emmaus; it is the peace embracing us as we patiently endure suffering. Through that embrace, we also offer His peace when we hold the hand of someone scorned; when we pray for a person, rather than speak words of discord; when we participate in the celebration of Mass every Sunday even though friends are calling us to play golf. We call Jesus the Good Shepherd and St. Peter says that we must also imitate the Good Shepherd and live for righteousness.

We also experience doubt and worry and can lose our way by our earthly situations, even as we profess our love of God. How do we remain faithful? You know the answer is to receive Jesus the Eucharist. Jesus is with us, in us and lives through us. The Eucharist brings us Jesus and we bring Jesus to one another as we receive ‘through the gate’ and go forth to serve one another.

Bettye Williams, left, is congratulated by Bishop John Noonan, during a ceremony where she was recognized as volunteer of the year for 2023 for Central Florida Reception Center. The Holy Cross parishioner has volunteered for 14 years to some 3,500 inmates at the local prison in Orlando. (GLENDA MEEKINS | FC)

We see each other through the patience of God. Ms. Bettye Williams, a parishioner of Holy Cross Parish in Orlando, was recently honored as volunteer of the year 2023 by the Central Florida Reception Center. Ms. Williams is one of more than 500 volunteers who spend time ministering to the center’s male incarcerated inmates. Ms. Williams is a humble servant of the Lord. She sees the people she serves as the incarcerated Jesus. Each one has a dignity born of God. Yes, they sinned. They committed crimes. They are as worthy of the Eucharist as you or me when they denounce their wrongdoing, seek forgiveness, and run into God’s arms. Ms. Williams knows this. She knows that they won’t turn to God without her advocacy, without her living for righteousness. Like so many of you in your daily living, Ms. Williams is an example of patience through suffering. She does not disparage these men or go and gossip about them. She serves them with God’s love.

Come to the table of the Lord. Receive the Eucharist. Be embraced by God’s mercy. Praise Him for His patience because He always gives us more time to be a Eucharist. Let our patience in suffering for doing what is good transcend the people we meet, that they know the Good Shepherd and come and follow Him.