We often make denigrating remarks about time – about being early, about being late, and about being right on time. This is because no matter who we are, none of us has complete control of our time. So we deal with it the best way we can.
Bluegrass songwriter, John Cadley, sings about the difficulty we have with time in his song called “Time.” “When I was young, I dreamed of being older. Now that I am older, I dream of being young. There are times when I complain about having no time. Then I wonder where that time has gone. Things I plan, I never do. Things that I never planned, I do. Once there was a time, when there was no time at all. And I wonder where that time has gone.”
Since the beginning of time, we human times have struggled with time. We want to remember who we were in the past and we want to know who we will be in the future. As Christians, we want to know about our salvation that was given to us in the past, promised to us in the future, and what we are preparing for in the present.
I think that almost all religions, in some way or another, try to give their followers a plan for salvation. In the first reading for the First Sunday of Advent, the prophet Isaiah reminds the Israelites and us where the plan comes from. The plan comes from God who is the father with the hands of a potter who forms us, who fashions us, who directs us along the path of time.
But just as John Cadley sings, we are left with uncertainty as to the time of things that are taking place. There are so many unpredictable variables in life including ourselves. If we say, “I am alright everything is going just fine for me.” Then God will remain strangely silent. During the time we rely on our own strength, God knows we will not look for any inspiration and spiritual guides. We tend to look to our own trusted resources. We look to our past experiences, we ask a family member or friend, or we GOOGLE for what we need. However, in our Catholic tradition, the Godgiven inspirations and spiritual guides come from the scriptures, the teachings of our Church, the use of our informed conscience, and the insights received from prayer. When our lives become uncertain and scary, we need to take the time to reflect about what we ought to do in good time. This is when we need to have a treasury of spiritual resources to draw from to see what inspiration and guidance they have to offer us.
The Season of Advent is the time given to us for contemplating the salvation given to us. The season encourages us not to try and land the best deals when it comes to our Christmas shopping or to go to extreme lengths to make our Christmas special. The Season of Advent reminds us of the past, when Jesus was born for the purpose of our salvation. It reminds us of Jesus’ presence in our lives today. And it reminds us to look forward to when Jesus will come again at the end of the world.
During her time on earth, Blessed Theresa of Calcutta said, “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.” So we have to be courageous enough to ask God our questions, to be humble enough to be open to God’s reply, and to be patient enough to wait for God’s plan of salvation available to each of us.
Fr. Bob Kelly