“A LITTLE WHILE AND NOW YOU SHALL NOT SEE ME “-(Gospel of Sunday. John xvi.).
There is nothing shorter than time, and yet nothing more valuable. There is nothing shorter, for the past is no more, the future is uncertain, the present only a moment. Jesus Christ said: A little time and now you shall not see me. We may say the same of our life which, according to St. James is a vapour which appeareth for a little while-(iv. 15).
The time is short, says the Apostle, St. Paul, it remaineth that … they that weep be as though they wept not; that they that rejoice, as if they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; and they that used this world, as if they used it not-( 1 Cor. vii. 29, 31). Since, then, the time we have to remain on this earth is short, the Apostle tells those who weep that they ought not to weep, because their sorrows shall soon pass away; and those who rejoice, not to fix their affections on enjoyments, because they shall soon have an end. Hence he concludes that we should use this world, not to enjoy its transitory goods, but to merit eternal life.
Son, says the Holy Ghost, observe the time-(Ecclus. iv. 23). Son, learn to preserve time, which is the most precious and the greatest gift that God can bestow upon you. St. Bernardine of Sienna teaches that time is of as much value as God; because in every moment of time well spent the possession of God is merited. He adds that in every instant of this life a man may obtain pardon of his sins, the grace of God, and the glory of Paradise. Hence St. Bonaventure says that “no loss is of greater moment than the loss of time.”
But, on his part, St. Bernard says that though there is nothing more precious than time, there is nothing less valuable in the estimation of men. . You will see some persons spending four or five hours in play. If you ask them why they lose so much time, they answer: To amuse ourselves. Others remain half the day standing in a street, or looking out from a window. If you ask them what they are doing, they will say in reply that they are passing the time. And why, says the same Saint, do you lose this time? Why should you lose even a single hour which the mercy of God gives you to weep for your sins, and to acquire Divine grace?
O time, despised by men during life, how much will you be desired at the hour of death, and particularly in the other world! Time is a blessing we enjoy only in this life; it is not enjoyed in the next; it is not found in Heaven nor in hell. In hell the damned exclaim with tears: “Oh that an hour were given to us!” They would pay any price for an hour or for a minute in which they might repair their eternal ruin. But this hour or minute they never shall have. In Heaven there is no weeping; but, were the Saints capable of sorrow, all their wailing should arise from the thought of having lost in this life the time in which they could have acquired greater glory, and from the conviction that this time shall never more be given to them.
O God of my soul, what should be my lot at this moment hadst Thou not shown me so many mercies! I should be in hell among the fools to whose number I have belonged. I thank Thee, 0 my Lord, and I entreat Thee not to abandon me in my blindness. I feel that Thou dost tenderly call me to ask pardon and to hope for graces from Thee. Yes, my Saviour, I hope Thou wilt admit me among Thy children. Father, I am not worthy to be called Thy child! I have sinned against Heaven and before Thee!
St. Francis Borgia was careful to employ every moment of his time for God. When others spoke of useless things, he conversed with God by holy affections; and so recollected was he that, when asked his opinion on the subject of conversation he knew not what answer to make. Being corrected for this, he said: I am content to be considered stupid rather than lose my time in vanities.
Some will say: What evil am I doing? Is it not, I ask, an evil to spend your time in amusements, in conversations, and useless occupations which are unprofitable to the soul? Does God give you this time to waste it? Let not, says the Holy Ghost, the part of a good gift overpass thee-(Ecclus. xiv. 14}. The labourers of whom St. Matthew speaks did no evil; they only lost time, remaining idle in the streets. But they were rebuked: Why stand you here all the day idle?-(Matth. xx. 6}. On the day of Judgment Jesus Christ will demand an account, not only of every month and day that has been lost, but even of every idle word spoken. Every idle word that men shall speak they shall render an account for it in the day of judgment-(Matth. xii. 36}. He will likewise demand an account of every moment of the time which you will lose. According to St. Bernard, all time not spent for God is time lost. Hence the Holy Ghost says: Whatsoever thy hand is able to do, do it earnestly: for neither work nor reason . . . shall be in hell, whither thou art hastening. What you can do today defer not till tomorrow; for on tomorrow you may be dead, and may be gone into another world where you shall have no more time to do good, and where you shall only enjoy the reward of your virtues or suffer the punishment due to your sins. Today if you shall hear his voice harden not your hearts-(Ps. xciv.}. Obey His call today; for it may happen that on tomorrow time will be no more for you, or that God will call you no more. All our salvation depends on corresponding with the Divine calls, and at the time that God calls us.
O my God, enlighten me! Give me to understand that the only evil is to offend Thee, the only good to love to spend the remainder of my days in serving Thee. 0 Mary, my hope, do thou intercede for me.