"It's about time," your mother says, sitting in the living room in her pj's at 1:00 a.m. when you promised to be home at curfew's 11:00 p.m. Time appears to then take a new meaning when it is reduced to time that is grounded. "Two full weeks!?"
Said quickly together, “about time,” it means the now, this moment.
Two words say it all, "about time." But does it? What if you take a pause between the words "about" and "time." What happens then? Then the sound is, "It's about…time." The first is specific, and the second swallow up the whole of it. The second is the kit caboodle of it all.
We live in both those times. The first is the dreaded dentist's appointment and the happy class reunion where you look better than the rest. The second, the one said with a pause, show us the whole of our time, the time of the world, and that timeless place above us.
A piercing question for us this weekend. Do we kill the messengers (our two lectors), or do we kill the message? I hope the answer is neither, for we know and like these two lectors, and we need to heed scripture's messages.
Lector One: "Forty days more," and this city will no longer exist. "Repent." (That's tender and warm!) Lector Two: "For the world in its present form is passing away." (That's reassuring and soothing.!) Thank you very much, the two of you, for your threatening and awfully ominous words.
Jesus comes along in the gospel, which I got to read, and gives us all a glimmer after our lectors' unpromising promises. "This is the time of fulfillment," Jesus says, "The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel." His last sentence is said on Ash Wednesday when we are again reminded of our fragile, fleeting, timed mortality.
So now I return to that every turning clock. I smile at churches that have a clock somewhere inside or outside. The church is the only place that reminds us of the timelessness of our lives. It's never 4:15 past the hour on the church's tower; it is happily 4:15 leading toward eternal life.
My dad had a cheap Timex watch that broke, but he gladly proclaimed, "It's right twice a day!" He bought a new cheap watch.
We live in a specific time, but each time we gather here, we honor those words which cue us to say, "Amen." The priest says, "for ever and ever." One forever is not enough to measure the timelessness of God's loving promise of mercy and grace and our some day return to our heavenly home.
"There is no time like the present," we quickly say when that present second passes away to the next. I don't mean to scare you as the lectors did this morning. But, it's January, and what better time to repent, believe, and live our beautiful gospel of peace, harmony, and unity than this very second, the very hour, throughout our very lives.
Nevertheless, Cue the broadway/movie, “Annie?” “The sun’ll come out tomorrow…bet your bottom dollar that…” That luscious, escape word “tomorrow.” That’s the word allowing us to conveniently postpone and shelve. “How about I take a rain check on that?” we say to ourselves. What part or parts of our spiritual lives do we comfortably say, "tomorrow?” Or, maybe and perhaps days after that?
Well, my time is up. Let's see how long the rest of Mass lasts so we can better manage and handle our timely, yet timeless timed lives.