Living on Borrowed Time
We cannot help but live and think in the context and concept of time. Our language is laced with it, our days are organized by it. We might even feel harassed or oppressed by it. The clock tells us when to get up, when to go to work, to church, or to some social event. It imposes limits on what we can do. Time steadily continues, tick-tick-tick, never missing a beat. The next day or week or year arrives right on schedule.
Time waits for no one. But it also allows wounds to heal, pain to recede, and the memory of bad experiences to fade. Scripture tells us there is “a time to be born, and a time to die…a time to mourn, and a time to dance…a time to be silent, and a time to speak” (Eccl 3:2–7). Everything has its appointed time.
As Catholic Christians we believe all time is leading us to meet God face-to-face. Time had a beginning in God, and it will have an end in God. We should not get bogged down in regrets about the past or in fears about the future. Instead, we should try to understand our precious gift of time and make the best use of it—both for the glory of God and the fruitfulness of our own lives.
The end of time
Transitory things are precious things. Gardeners cultivate roses and other flowers carefully, knowing they have only a short time to enjoy their delicate beauty. Parents take pictures and movies of their children, trying to make the most of their early years, because soon they will grow up and their innocence and sweet childishness will be only a memory. As for ourselves, we try to make the most of our years of vigor and creativity, knowing that one day we will no longer have the strength or health to enjoy the things we like or to serve others with our talents.
We Christians understand that a moment is approaching known as “the end of time.” We do not know when it will arrive, but we are certain it will. In his First Letter to the Thessalonians, Saint Paul describes this moment, “The Lord himself, with a word of command, with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God, will come down from heaven” (4:16). I wonder if the archangel’s call will be “Time’s up!” Our gift of time is precious because it is finite; one day we will have no more time.
It is clear the Lord would have us regard time as a precious gift, meant to be used in his service and for our spiritual enrichment. Time passes, and thus it is transitory; we have a limited number of years—perhaps only a few more—to serve God and neighbor and to give God glory and praise.