The prophets and people of the Old Testament had to wait, patiently and faithfully, for God to move.
Then, of course, God did move. God sent Christ, with the message that the renewed and perfect world that had been promised for so long was not going to be just the handiwork of God. God had become human, and from then on, humanity was the agent God had chosen, through which God would accomplish God’s work.
If we just think that through, we will realise that it is a staggering challenge. It calls for some very concrete virtues. It calls for faithfulness, for patience, for a great deal of humility. And perhaps, as much as anything else, it calls for balance.
One of the most obvious applications of all this is found in the Gospel reading for this weekend. Finding a balance in one’s life between action and rest, work and play, service and prayer.
Even Christ said to the apostles from time to time, enough is enough, slow down, come away and rest, and think for a while. Most of us are not good relaxers. Too many times our play, even our prayer, is as driven and draining and anxious as our work, and that is not good. Those who are never genuinely playful, genuinely at rest, are not balanced people and their chances of contributing to their own perfection, let alone that of the world, are fairly slim.
There is another dimension to the virtuously balanced personality and that is a moderation in the expectations that we set up of ourselves and of one another. The fact is that in a world that grows perfect only slowly, every inhabitant is still imperfect. Now that can never mean that we let ourselves grow passive in our judgement of evil as evil, but it does mean that we never grow too discouraged in the pursuit of good, even when there are setbacks.
So, a balanced personality, always tempered and guided by faith. A personality that is open to all of the potential goodness of life, but one which is prudent enough to be able to concentrate on those goods which are under one’s control, which can be accomplished, even if it doesn’t seem like much. That is the messianic role of everyone of God’s people. That is the way, it is the only way, that the world will be made perfect.