What if I asked you to describe for me the “Life of your Time” Could you do it? Or would you just look at me funny thinking that’s not quite right. We all understand the “Time of our Life”, but it is the rare few among us who have come to really value the “Life of our time.” The time of our life is measured against the months and years, the pleasure and fun. The time of our life becomes a yardstick by which all other experiences are evaluated. The time of our life is aggressively pursued, jealously guarded, longingly savoured, and drawn out for as long as possible.
But what about the life of your time? Why are you here and what are you doing? It is not a question of quantity but quality. The life of your time can be defined in a single moment, in a single decision. The life of your time is not always fun or pleasant, but it is always productive. The life of your time gives reason and meaning for all the experiences you have within it. The Life of our time is largely ignored, forgotten, belittled, or cut short. This is not so much a question of WHAT you do with your time but WHY you do it.
St. Mark, in his Gospel, is clearly a man who understands the Life of Time. For Mark there is no luxury of savouring the nativity. What is singularly important is meeting the Saviour and witnessing His Words and His actions. And so St. Mark gets straight to it. Time and time again you can see this in his use of the word “immediately”. Everything that isn’t absolutely essential to the fulfilling of the Gospel of Christ is left by the wayside. Mark’s Gospel is one of remarkable brevity. His time is Right Here and Now. And nowhere is this seen better than in the very words and actions of Christ Himself.
(14-15) “Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel.” Christ’s idea of time is more than a little different than most of us. For Jesus, Time is never simply something to be spent. It was not just a chronology to be filled up with any old kind of diversion or activity. In our Lord, Time itself is fulfilled. Time itself is given Life! Jesus is not simply saying that He is really busy with a lot of stuff, so the disciples had better hop to it! He is showing, in Words and Actions that THIS TIME, right here and right now, is a turning point.
God’s Time is not a long succession of possibilities, but a succinct, definitive reality. It is a divinely ordained framework for His Will and Direction. In other words, Christ doesn’t find meaning for life in never-ending streams of events. He creates meaning for Life in His being part of Time itself. And that meaning is in His will for our use of the gift of Time. (17) And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you become fishers of men.” To repent, to believe, to follow, and to leave all that holds us back. This is God’s will. This is what gives Life to our Time here in the world.
I can’t help but wonder, however, what would have happened if Jesus were to come here and try the same thing with us. If we received the same invitation, what would our reaction be? “We would love to come with you Jesus, but our business consultant is predicting a steady increase in the price of fish on the open markets. Now is not a good time for us to leave the company in the hands of untrained employees.” “I’m too old to begin fishing!” “I’m too young.” “My family is coming over and I need to prepare. I can’t leave now!” “Can’t it wait until tomorrow? After all, the big game is today.”
It is exactly as St. Paul describes in our Epistle reading for today (1Co.7) “I mean, brethren, the appointed time has grown very short; from now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the form of this world is passing away.” Life is not about casting our nets first over there, next over here, always seeking to fill them up with stuff, with the Time of our lives. Christ instead says cast where He is – fill our Time with real Life.
And Jesus said, that is truly the Good News in all of this. “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel.” Our time is fulfilled in Him. The kingdom of our God is at hand, because He is at hand. And just in the nick of time! When the Time was right, God sent His son into the world to save the world from its sins. To lead us where we had refused to follow. To go to the cross and bear our sin into death, that in repentance and faith we might have new life. Because of that Gospel – because of Christ there is now real life for our time!
And just as He did with the disciples, Christ calls each of us. It may seem ordinary, not worthy of note. Like being baptized as an infant. But in that simple call to follow Him is the gift of Life for our Time. Where the King is, there His kingdom is at hand. Where the King is, there His riches and His mercy are freely handed out! Again, just as Jesus did for those simple, uneducated fishermen, Christ who has called us will also train us. He will support us. He will encourage us. He will make us to become real fishers of men. He will give Life to our Time here in the world.
Our King is present right here and right now, to give us faith because of the gospel present in Word and action. His Love is at work in our midst through the reading of His Holy Word. His calling is confirmed and secured in the waters of Baptism. His forgiveness overflows in His body and blood, given in the Holy Supper. These are what give us faith to believe. Faith to repent. Faith to follow where He leads and do as He asks. Faith to stop filling up our time with all that doesn’t matter, and see instead that our time is fulfilled in Christ alone. Christ has redeemed our time, Christ will use us to do His will
One final way to look at all of this would be to ask the age old hypothetical question: If your house was burning down and you had no time, What is the one thing you would save? A silly question, unless of course you’ve actually faced that situation. I had a friend that did. They told me how they chose wrong. They tried to save a lot of their stuff. Now they wish they had only tried to save their family pictures. Everything that seemed so important at the time is now long gone. What they miss is the reminders of the love the have shared as a family. If your house was burning down and you had no time what is the one thing you would save? How you answer tells a lot about the Life of your Time. How you answer is important to those around you. The world is burning “the form of this world is passing away.” The Time is ripe. The time for action is right now. What will you do with the time you have been given? Will you seek to have the time of your life? Or in the Gospel and presence of our Lord Christ, will you give real Life to your time? “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel.”