Before a football team signs a new player, they spend hours scouting his performance on the field. They want to see not only if he can make plays, but whether he works hard at practice and how willing he is to listen to the coach. Not only are the player’s skills important but also his character. And so, not only do they monitor his performance on the field, but they investigate what he does with his free time. When he is not at practice or at the game, is he studying and spending time with his family? Or is he going to parties and getting himself into trouble? How a player spends his free time goes a long way in revealing what type of person he is.
For most of us, the most precious commodity we have is time. We are generally much more willing to give money than volunteer our time. How we spend our time reveals a great deal about what is important to us and what type of people we are.
Looking back on this past week, how have we spent our time? When we were not working or at school, what did we choose to do with our free time? How much of it did we spend in front of the TV? How much of it did we spend with our families? How much of it did we spend with someone who needed our help? And how much of it did we spend in prayer?
The scripture readings we have heard remind us that our time is valuable and that it is short.
Saint Paul in his letter to the Romans urges us to recognize that the day of our salvation is on the horizon. It is closer now than it was yesterday. If we have been putting off the changes we need to make in our lives because we think we have plenty of time, then we are mistaken. Now is the time to take seriously the commitment we made at our baptism to reject sin and to walk with Jesus. We cannot afford to put it off any longer. Saint Paul tells us that the alarm clock is ringing. It is time to wake up to the fullness of life that Jesus is offering us.
What needs to change in our lives? What have we been putting off doing because we think we have plenty of time? Who in our lives do we need to ask forgiveness of and be reconciled with? Who have we been planning to call or visit but just have not made the time for? What are we waiting for? There is no better day than today to begin reaching out to those who need our love.
If there is one thing you and I put off doing perhaps more than any other it is going to confession. We have plenty of excuses for waiting another week or two before going. What we are really doing is depriving ourselves of all the rich graces that come when we accept God’s pardon and mercy. We are keeping ourselves from experiencing the healing that comes from celebrating His unconditional love for us. In these weeks of preparation for the birth of Jesus, let that be our first step toward making the changes that need to be made in our lives. We will never regret making the time to let Jesus free our hearts from the burden of shame and sin we carry.
Another important question to ask ourselves is, how much time do we spend dwelling on past regrets or worrying about what the future holds? The past is gone. We can never get it back. And the future is out of our hands. While we have to plan for it, so much can change between now and tomorrow. We really only have today. It is right now that Jesus meets us with the offer of a new and fuller life. He is offering to provide us with the bread we need this day. While we need to be thankful for all the blessings we have received in the past, we must also reach our hands out to the blessings that are being offered to us today. We must forgive ourselves for the foolish choices we made yesterday and trust that God will give us the wisdom to make better choices today.