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Advent is a time for patience, when the Church slows down and waits for Christ’s coming. As we continue journeying with the patriarchs of old on their Advent pilgrimage, Jacob teaches us the value of patience.
This third of the patriarchs, who received the name “Israel” and fathered its 12 tribes, had a long education in waiting. After obtaining his father’s blessing through deception, Jacob spent much of his life in hiding with his uncle Laban, waiting for his brother Esau’s wrath to subside. During that time, he waited seven years for Laban to give his daughter Rachel in marriage, only to be tricked into working seven additional years after Laban’s trickery. Seeking reconciliation with Esau, he spent a whole night wrestling with God to obtain his blessing. As an older man, Jacob would have to wait many more years for the return of Joseph, his beloved son whom he thought dead.
What convinced Jacob to persist through all these feats of patience? Through it all, he knew himself to be chosen. From birth, he was sure he had been designated by God’s providence to inherit the promises made to his fathers.
While Jacob’s deceit is not morally commendable, his tenacity in obtaining the promised blessing is an example of spiritual patience for us. We, like Jacob, have been chosen to receive God’s blessing. Jacob’s waiting is a microcosm of all Israel’s waiting for the promise given to Abraham to be fulfilled in Christ. In our baptism, we were each given an ineradicable share in this blessing, and a call to persevere through all life’s trials to finally realize it.
With Jacob, we learn to be patient this Advent, as we await the fulfillment of our promised blessing.
[The Aleteia community is joining the journey of an Old Testament pilgrim each day this Advent, as they lead us to the Christ Child in this holy season. Find the daily reflections here.]