This story is inspired by the second reading for the Third Sunday of Advent (Cycle A), James 5:7–10.
“No, Jesus,” Mary said gently as she mended a shirt. They sat by the hearth waiting for Joseph to return from working for a neighbor. A sweet aroma rose from vegetables cooking on the fire. Five minutes passed.
“How about now?” Jesus asked with a persistent tone in his voice.
“Sweetheart, you have seen only six Passovers. It is not time to fulfill your Father’s mission.”
“But Mother, I want to do it now!” Jesus sighed and threw a stick on the fire.
“You must be patient, Jesus. We are often in a hurry to do something. But we should not be in a rush to take action. Come; sit on my lap. Let me tell you a story.”
Jesus allowed himself to be enfolded in the comfortable embrace of Mary’s arms.
She held her son close and began, “See in your imagination the farm we pass on our way to market. Remember when Jacob planted the seeds?”
“That was an awful long time ago, Mother,” Jesus said, disappointed.
Mary nodded. “It was. The farmer waited for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient until it received the early and the late rains. The tiny plants poked through the soil, and it took a long time for them to grow tall. Only then could they produce the grain that will seed Jacob’s next crop. He doesn’t complain while he waits. Things take time. You, too, must be patient. You cannot rush your Father’s will.”
“But Mother, I feel that the coming of the kingdom is at hand,” the little boy replied persistently.
“Yes, the reign of God is coming. But not yet. You will see the signs. We will know, you and I, when it’s time. Remember how the angel came to me and told me you would be the Messiah? I’ve told you that story many times.”
“I love that story,” Jesus said, distracted. “Tell me it again.”
“Not the whole thing, dear. But remember how I was simply being faithful to my prayers, doing my best to live according to God’s ways, and looking forward to marrying Joseph? I wasn’t complaining to God, begging for the anointed one to come immediately. I was doing the service God asked of me in my circumstances. Was I surprised when God revealed my purpose! Then I had to wait nine whole months with you inside me. You didn’t just show up the next day.”
Mary squeezed her little boy tight. A few moments passed in silence. Jesus looked thoughtful. At last he nodded.
“I think I need to wait until my cousin John figures out his mission. He will prepare the way before me.”
Mary looked amazed. Then she smiled. Of course, she thought, the son born of Elizabeth was like no other. John recognized Jesus while still in the womb. Should it surprise me that Jesus also recognizes John?
She held her son close and said, “We must be at peace in the ‘not yet,’ my dear, extraordinary child.”