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In today’s first reading, Saint James refers to ‘the patience of Job’. It is one of those biblical phrases that has made its way into day to day conversation. We often speak about someone having the patience of Job. Certainly, Job started off being very patient. If you remember, everything was taken from him, property, children, home. His wife wanted him to curse God. He refused and instead blessed God, ‘The Lord gave; the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord’. However, as you read on in the Book of Job, it is clear that Job soon loses his patience.

He rails in anger against God for all that has happened to him and is angrily dismissive of his friends who are trying to support him. Perhaps the biblical author wants us to recognize that admirable patience and explosive anger often reside within the one person, including the person of faith. We know that from our own experience. Patience is a virtue, whereas anger is an emotion. The more we cultivate the virtue of patience, the more we can channel our anger in ways that are creative and life-giving for others. Anger directed by the virtue of patience can be a positive energy that helps to build communion between ourselves and others.

In the gospel reading, Jesus speaks about the communion between a husband and wife, a very unique form of communion whereby, as he says, two become ‘one body’. Yet, we are all called to build communion with others, to help form communities that reflect the community that is God. If we are to do that, we will need to cultivate the virtue of patience so that the potentially more divisive emotions, like anger, can be harnessed for a creative purpose. If patience is a virtue, Saint Paul reminds us that it is also the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Becoming a patient person is not primarily down to will-power on our part. It has more to do with a greater openness to the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives.


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