Time Counts

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2015/06/12 at 12:00 AM

In the north transept of the ancient and magnificent cathedral of Lyon, France, is one of the most interesting clocks in the world.
Dating from the 14th century, this astronomical clock keeps track of not only the hours of each day, but also the dates of both the regular calendar and our Catholic liturgical calendar.
The most fascinating part of this clock is its different automatons that come to life at various hours of the day, giving the clock an entertaining quality while it calculates and marks the feast days of saints as well as the position of the stars above Lyon each night.
Truly an engineering marvel, this clock has delighted and fascinated pilgrims and visitors of the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Lyon for centuries. But more importantly, this clock and its automatons teach us something about time and about our Catholic faith.
As the automatons move about at various hours, they depict the Annunciation, the moment when the Archangel Gabriel announced to Mary that, though a virgin, she would conceive and bear the Christ Child.
And by uttering her fiat of assent to the divine will, the Word was made flesh. The infinite Lord, Who lives outside of time, took on the finitude of human flesh and entered into time. God became man, and the world has never been the same.
So this beautiful old clock in Lyon reminds us so cleverly of the most important moment in human history. And as it marks hours, days, and years of time, this clock points us to a greater reality that exists beyond time: it points us toward eternity.
By calling to mind the most important moment in human history: the moment God became man, we are reminded that it is our deepest hope as Christians that we men will someday become like God as we are united with Him eternally in Heaven.
Time is an important element of our faith. The reckoning of time by the Church has become a bit complicated since the reform of the liturgical calendar that came with Vatican II.
For parishes like our own that offer both the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Mass, and therefore follow both the old and the new liturgical calendars, days like today can be difficult!
While both the old and the new liturgical calendars recognize October 28 as the Feast of the Apostles Simon & Jude, in the old calendar the last Sunday of October is the Feast of Christ the King, while in the new calendar today is simply the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time.
But the complexity of calendars and feast days heightens our awareness of just how seriously the Church considers time. For while we certainly hope to live one day in the eternity of Heaven, whether or not we do so depends on how we spend our time on earth.
So time is important to us Catholics, especially considering that none of us knows just how much time we will have to prepare for eternity.
Recognizing the power of time, occasionally Holy Mother Church will set aside a year for the Church at large to ponder upon a particular mystery of our Catholic Faith. In the past we’ve had years dedicated to Mary, to the priesthood, and the Eucharist.
Recently our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, proclaimed a Year of Faith beginning on October 11, 2012, and concluding on November 24, 2013 – the Feast of Christ the King in the new calendar.
The beginning of the Year of Faith was chosen to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the opening of the 2nd Vatican Council and the 20th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
So why the focus on faith? Well, because there is really nothing more important than our faith! In his letter to the Ephesians, St. Paul reminds us that, “it is by grace that you have been saved, through faith” (cf. Eph 2:8). Salvation is a free gift of God’s grace, but we must exercise faith in Him to make use of the gift. We must believe.
And certainly we see the importance of faith in the Gospel stories in which Jesus heals people. In today’s Gospel we hear the story of the blind man, Bartimaeus, who cries out: “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me,” despite the rebukes he receives for doing so.
When asked by Jesus what he wishes, Bartimaeus replies: “Master, I want to see.” And Jesus heals him, saying: “Go your way; your faith has saved you.”
We see this same type of encounter between Jesus and sick people repeatedly throughout the Gospels in which Jesus heals the sick person because of their faith in His power to heal.
The Gospels also show that Jesus encouraged His apostles to have a strong and unshakeable faith as they witness His miracles, His Transfiguration, and even His mastery over nature itself.
Who can forget the Gospel story in which St. Peter asks to walk on water, only to falter because of his lack of faith? We see in this story the necessity for all of us to be strengthened in our faith from time to time – even the greatest of saints.
And so this time set aside for a Year of Faith is meant to do exactly that: to strengthen us in faith, to strengthen our belief in God, so that we might be better prepared for eternity.
So during this Year of Faith, Holy Mother Church is inviting us to study our faith, to take more time for daily prayer, and to give more attention to Mass and the Sacraments.
But in addition to shoring up our own faith, I think this Year of Faith should also be a time of renewed evangelization efforts for those of us who are people of faith.
There can be no doubt that our society is growing increasingly hostile to faith. The tide of secularism is rising, pulling people who are weak in faith away from God, and therefore away from the probability of eternal salvation.
Jesus is clear. In the Gospel of John He tells us: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). If we want to go the Heaven, we need to know Christ and have a relationship with Him!
So as we seek to strengthen our own faith in this coming year, we should also seek to strengthen the faith of others, especially those who have fallen away from our Lord and His Church, as well as those who have never known Him.
But let us keep in mind that faith does not stand alone. Along with hope and charity, faith is one of the three theological virtues that God gives us at our baptism. And these three virtues work within us to strengthen us in holiness, and to make us credible witnesses to the Gospel.
If we want to win people over for Christ and His Kingdom, we must be willing to share our faith with others, but we must do so in a way that is imminently charitable and that inspires hope. Very few people will come to know Christ through argument.
But if we show ourselves to be people with a deep hope for Heaven and an uncompromising love for God and others, then our faith will appear all the more credible and attractive.
My dear brothers and sisters, time is precious, for none of us knows how long we have to live on earth. So let us use this Year of Faith well, that we might be better prepared for eternity and help others along the path to Heaven as well.
May we always make good use of our time, knowing that in just a little while, it will be eternity.
28 October 2012

© Reverend Timothy Reid

Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

Homilies from June 17, 2012 onward have audio .
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