Gift of Time
Jan 23, 2018
"Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed”
I tell you, brothers and sisters, the time is running out…For the world in its present form is passing away.
Today we are reminded to be ever mindful of time and how to best spend it. As the saying goes: do not squander time…it is the stuff that life is made of.
Everything we do is marked by the steady march of time. The problem for all of us is that the clock is always running the wrong way, and we simply cannot stop its precipitous crawl toward the next tick. We lose moments to the past, out of our reach, never to be regained.
Where did all the years go?
The kids have grown and gone. We're muddling along in a career, making a living, just existing out of habit more than anything.
The Greek language has a couple of words that mean "time." The first is most familiar—chronos . It means the chronology of days, governed by the carefully calculated sweeps of the earth around the sun. God himself ordained this measurement of days on the fourth day of Creation, spinning the heavenly lights "for seasons, and for days and years."
But another word for time is also used in the New Testament—kairos . This speaks more to specific, God-ordained times throughout history, sometimes called the "right time" “quality time” or "appointed season". Kairos is God's dimension—one not marked by the past, the present, or the future.
When Jesus came, it was a fulfillment of promises past, a cosmic collision of the sacred and secular. It was an intersection of the holy will of God and the stubborn willfulness of man. It was a perfect moment. As Jesus says today: "This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel." Which begs the question…how can I live more intensely quality time and be not so much at the mercy and fear of quantity time?
There is no greater investment or fulfillment of one’s time than keeping Holy the Sabbath Day. It is eternal time, it is God’s time and therefore to fill our time with God especially at opportune moments, none more so than Mass…is to attach an eternal value to the time we spend in this life…thereby sanctifying every beat of our heart and breath from our body.
Because God is Man and was Himself under the constraints of time…having lived only 33 years…because He subjected Himself to time as He did to sin, suffering and death…Jesus has redeemed time…made it more sacred and precious and worthwhile.
This godly kairos pierced its way into creation at just the right time, slicing through chronos with a cry of a baby in a manger.
The cross was another kairos moment as Saint Paul says, "For while we were still helpless, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly."
Kairos moments then—and now—allow us to peek around the corner at eternity. We actually glimpse how God works.
We should always live our days looking for those moments, those inexplicable times when His will and his way intersect with each breath and step of our daily walks.
A friend calls you out of the blue to give a good word. A child's innocent joy pierces a long, hard day of struggle. A coworker takes a moment to lend a hand. God is always surprising us with his perfect, kairos timing.
There is a painfully beautiful play by Thornton Wilder entitled Our Town. One of the main characters, Emily who has passed away is being led back through her entire life and as she is doing so by her Stage Manager guide, her heart is somewhat saddened since so much of her life had been rushed away in living for the future and couldn’t see her present for what it was…just that, a present. The theme of Our Town conveys the truth about the sanctity of the time of everyday life.
“Emily reaching out to her living mom from the silence of her death pleads: Oh, Mama, look at me one minute as though you really saw me. Mama, fourteen years have gone by. I'm dead. You're a grandmother, Mama! Wally's dead, too. His appendix burst on a camping trip to North Conway. We felt just terrible about it - don't you remember? But, just for a moment now we're all together. Mama, just for a moment we're happy. Let's really look at one another! I can't. I can't go on. It goes so fast.
We don't have time to look at one another. I didn't realize. All that was going on and we never noticed. Take me back -- up the hill -- to my grave. But first: Wait! One more look. Good-bye , Good-bye world. Good-bye, Grover's Corners....Mama and Papa. Good-bye to clocks ticking....and Mama's sunflowers. And food and coffee. And new ironed dresses and hot baths....and sleeping and waking up. Oh, earth,you are too wonderful for anybody to realize you. Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every,every minute?
Stage Manager: No. (pause) The saints and poets, maybe they do."
Why the Saints and Poets….because of their sensitivity to and compassion for life…not just its joys and celebrations…but more so its afflictions, hurts, losses, separations and agonies…are we not saved by Christ who endured all our agonies from His Cross?
It is a shame that tragedy and death often have to be the bullhorns that rouse us from our spiritual comas, but be that as it may, they can be the most effective instruments through which our hearts are softened, and the real important aspects of our life become quite simplified and enlarged.
In one of his novels, Walker Percy has his protagonist lament: Have you noticed that only in time of illness or disaster or death are people real? I remember at the time of the wreck—people were so kind and helpful and solid. Everyone pretended that our lives until that moment had been every bit as real as the moment itself and that the future must be real too, when truth was that our reality had been purchased only by Lyell’s death.
But our reality and our truth has been purchased by the death of Christ but we can only arrive at this truth, be inspired and empowered by it…if only we invest in Holy Sabbath time.
From Our Town we hear:
“We all know that something is eternal. And it ain’t houses and it ain’t names, and it ain’t earth, and it ain’t even the stars . . . everybody knows in their bones that something is eternal, and that something has to do with human beings. All the greatest people ever lived have been telling us that for five thousand years and yet you’d be surprised how people are always losing hold of it. There’s something way down deep that’s eternal about every human being.”
Because of who has created us…an Eternal Being…our human being therefore craves eternity…we are drawn forth from Eternity and therefore our greatest desire is to be drawn back into that eternity…but God satisfies so much of that desire here and now by way of the Incarnation.
Within the person of Jesus Christ Eternal Time and Earthly Time become one…just as our nature and God’s divine nature become one…and what God does is he fills both our being and our time with His eternal life and love…there is no greater fulfillment than God…to try and fill our lives with anything or anyone else leads only to frustration.
As Christians we must see this life through the eyes of Faith…through the eyes of Christ on the Cross…who from that precious height was able to see the entirety of the universe he had created and all people in it remembering how he had found it good and how after making us…found us very good and now after redeeming us from that height and emerging from those deepest depths of death Resurrected, now seeing us…finds us the absolute best.
God understands perfectly how loaded with worry the human heart can be and how these burdens can lead it far astray of embracing fully all the love and blessings in one’s life. He has placed the third commandment in our heart, because like any perfectly loving Father, He desires to call his straying sons and daughters back into His embrace through His Son, Jesus Christ.
This is the relationship that once having been forged in baptism, and strengthened with our attendance at Mass becomes the foundation for all our other relationships.
Keeping Holy the Sabbath Day is the springboard from which we keep holy our lives, so that we become living saints and poets. It is more than just stopping to smell the roses because in winter there are no roses to smell, it is stopping to love and be loved and to worship.
Christ pleads with us: “Come to me all you who labor and are heavy burdened, and I will give you rest”, and what is the Sabbath if not a day of rest…eternal rest in fact.