With just a flip of a page on the calendar, a new year has begun. For many of us the beginning of a new year is an occasion to reflect on the events of the past year – the blessings and the burdens – and to wonder what the new year will hold for us. No doubt the future will be a combination of the good and bad; moments of joy and sorrow, success and failure, health and illness, and life and death. Every year is like that, isn’t it?
Another, more immediate way of marking the passing of time for me is my grandfather clock. It’s the only piece of furniture that I own, and is one of the few material possessions that I value at all. It’s a beautiful timepiece, with an attractive wood frame and a dependable and precise mechanism.
Amidst the anxieties of life, one of the things I find reassuring is how the clock keeps running, keeps doing its job and marking the time, regardless of where I am, what I’m doing or how I feel. The swinging of the pendulum and the ticking of the clock is sure and steady. If I leave the house to go to work or run errands, the clock continues its relentless rhythm: tick . . . tick . . . tick. If I’m in a good mood or bad: tick . . . tick . . . tick. When I take a nap or go to bed, the clock doesn’t sleep: tick . . . tick . . . tick.
“Time marches on,” the saying goes. Through the eyes of faith, however, the passage of time is more than just a turning of a page or clicking of a clock. It’s the sacred context in which God’s plan for the salvation of the world is realized.
The Scriptures, in many places, speak of the importance of time. Ecclesiastes famously says, “There is an appointed time for everything.” (3:1) In the letter to the Hebrews, we read: “In times past, God spoke in partial and various ways to our ancestors through the prophets; in these last days, he spoke to us through his son.” (Heb 1:2) Jesus, on the threshold of his passion and death, says, “Father, the hour has come.” (Jn 17:1) And St. John, rather ominously warns, “Children, it is the last hour.” (I Jn 2:18)
As we begin a new year, then, let’s resolve to pay attention to how God’s plan is unfolding in the passage of time.
Something to think about: How is God’s plan unfolding in your life?
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