20th Week after Pentecost
THE VALUE OF TIME.
Redeeming the time. — Ephesians 5:16
There is a precious treasure, my dear brethren, which is always partly, but only partly, in our possession. Now and then we wake up to the conviction how valuable it is. There is something which must be done, and there is only just time to do it in; we wish there were more, but no, only just so much is allotted to us. Then we realize how priceless time is. The sinner, suddenly struck, down by some terrible accident, and with only a few minutes to live— what would he not give for a half-hour more ; for time to look into his confused and disturbed conscience ; for time to rouse himself to real contrition for his sins; for time, at least, to send for a priest,and with his help make some sort of preparation for eternity!
But it is not only at the end of our lives, or in moments of such supreme importance, that we would pay for time with gold, or with other things upon which we set great value here. Often we would give much to be able to put ourselves back a day or even an hour in our lives; what an advantage it would give us! We look back on many hours and days in the past; there they were, once at our service, but now squandered and gone for ever.
Time, then, is this precious treasure, which we shall never wholly lose till we pass out of this world for ever. Its golden sands are running rapidly away from us, but still some remain. The uncertainty how much of it is still left should make us put to the best use each instant as it passes. Who would not draw prudently from a chest in which his whole fortune was locked up, if its amount were unknown to him, if the next demand might exhaust it ; and who would not put to the best use each penny that he drew ?
This is the instruction, the warning that the Apostle gives us in to-day’s Epistle : “To walk circumspectly ; not as unwise, but as wise, redeeming the time.” Saving it— that is to say, not letting it slip by us idly and unprofitably; not only having it while it lasts, but receiving also the precious fruits with which it is laden.
How much this caution is needed! How careless we tire about this priceless possession which is ours from moment to moment ! Some part of it indeed we are generally obliged to employ, and fortunate we are that it is so, in some occupation of profit to ourselves or to others. Yes, fortunate ; for that man must earn his bread by the toil of, his body or mind, is hardly after the fall a curse, but rather a blessing. Place fallen human nature in the paradise of our first parents, and its final loss could hardly be averted. But the rest : how often do we see, when work is over, that the only thought, even of Christians, is to get rid of this invaluable gift, the precious time which God has given them ! They seem to have no thought but to lose themselves and it in some mere sensual pleasure, to fritter it away in gossip or some foolish and needless diversion, or to forget it and throw it away in slothful and unnecessary sleep.
Brethren, some day we shall want all this time that we are now wasting. Then it will stand out before us in its true value; we shall see that it should have been redeemed, and that it is now irredeemable. And what is more, God, who gave it to us, will require an account of it at our hands. He gave it to us for an object; there is not a minute of it that he did not mean us to turn to good use. And we can carry out his purpose if we only will. Let us, then, beware of idleness ; even our recreation and rest should be such that we can feel that he would approve of them, and that they will help us in our remaining hours to do the work that he has required and expects us to do. To kill time—let this be a word unheard among us ; to kill time is to trample down the seed of eternal life and to invite death to our souls
An Excerpt From :
Priests of the Congregation of St. Paul. Five Minute Sermons for Low Masses on All Sundays of the Year. Vol. 2. [S.l.]: Catholic Publication Society, 1886. Print. pg 458