Instead of talking about New Year resolutions and all the promises we make, I would like to share a few moments with you on a quality, on a commodity, that is as important as the air we breathe or the food we eat. It is the precious quality, almost the sacred quality, that we call time.
It seems like yesterday that the World Trade Center tragedy took place. Our lives were changed forever, yet life goes on. We must find a way to live the year 2002 fruitfully and optimistically. This year might go by as quickly. Will it be a productive year, a happy year? Will it be one getting closer to God and our families? Or will it be one that will find us going with the flow or just going through the pace of living? The answer to all of these questions will depend on how you use this sacred and precious commodity we call time.
Whether we like to think of it or not, we are here but a short time. If we are now discovering that earth might be over ten billion years of age and we are on it maybe 70, 80 or 90 years, then we have to use that time wisely and profitably. God put his only Son on this earth for just over 30 years. God put Mary, the mother of Christ, for just over 50 years. Both of them were given a mission to spread a gospel of love. That same mission of love is given to each one of us. We show that love of Christ to our neighbors in the form of personal charity and compassion. No matter what vocation you are in, single or married, priest or lay person, that is part of our mission of love. When Christ said, "when I was hungry, you gave me to eat; thirsty and you gave me to drink; naked and you clothed me", he was reminding the people not only of his generation, but of our generation, that we have the obligation during our time on this earth to spread his gospel through our personal charity and compassion. Our stay on this earth is very short. Our tour of duty is very brief. While we are on this earth we have to develop priorities that enable us to see how short our stay on earth is compared to the eternity of love that God wants to lavish on us.
What are some of the priorities we have to develop to make 2002 a happy and holy one?
First of all, get rid of the baggage that you might be carrying. To carry over from one year to the next the hurts, the wounds caused by others, is a sheer waste of this sacred quality we call time. If you are going to "get a life" then you are going to get rid of the baggage of hurts or self pitying moments, wrongful hurts. To hold onto them is a sheer waste of time. "Yesterday is history, tomorrow is mystery, today is reality". What you have today is called the "new moment" and you must make the most of it, if today, if this year, is going to be a productive 2002.
The next priority we should consider is our relationship with God and how we are using the quality of time on earth that God has given to us. Think of it this way. God has given us 168 hours in each wee and we give him one hour maybe every Sunday in public worship. One hour out of 168 hours. When you see people who are trying to take care of the sick and feed the hungry and take care of the unfortunate and underprivileged during the 168 hours God gives to us, it should cause us to think and reflect on how we are using this special gift of time, these 168 hours each week compared to others.
Another priority that should be cultivated is that of making excuses. Concerning happiness, which is one of our priorities, consider this - long before Freud and Jung came into our culture, Abraham Lincoln once said, "you are as happy as you make up your mind to be." If someone takes away your happiness or your peace of mind, then you are equally responsible for allowing your happiness or peace of mind to be taken away. Recently, I was at Sloan Kettering to see a young man in his mid-thirties who is fighting for his life because of cancer. Do you think he cares if the stock market goes up 300 points or down 250? If your priorities are not right, proportionally you will be an unhappy camper and constant peace of mind will never be yours.
Yes, we know we have hectic schedules that periodically we ask where is the time going. The question we should be asking is where is life going? Every day, without being morbid or paranoid, we are getting closer to God.
When you analyze this quality of time, we have to keep in mind that our time over a span of 70 years is often not totally under our direction. Think of this, in a span of 70 years, eight months is spent in opening up junk mail, two years are lost in returning phone calls of people who never seem to be in, eating meals consumes about six years of the time we have on this earth. Waiting for the traffic light to change takes about five months of our lives. Standing on line either at the bank or post office takes five years out of our lives. The average husband and wife, because of their obligations and responsibilities, have about twelve minutes of substantive conversation.
When you total up all there obligations and events that break up our days and weeks, there comes a time, or should come a time, when I sit down and ask myself, what is my relationship with God? Am I spreading the message of his Son through my personal charity and compassion?
God, when you and I die, is not concerned about the size of the house we have, the portfolio we have, the material assets we have. You have worked for them, enjoy them. This is all part of the hundred fold mentioned in the gospel.
But God is concerned about this special quality we call time. How did you use it? Did you bring his gospel of love, his charity and compassion to those in want and need? If you did you will hear the words of Christ - "well done, good and faithful servant". If you did not, there is still time to bring the love of God, the charity and compassion of God to those with whom you live and work. Life is a matter of time, well spent or poorly spent. The choice is up to you.
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