One of the most significant inventions of all time is the mechanical clock. To be sure, there were sand clocks, water clocks, sun clocks and candle clocks for many millennia, but with the mechanical clock the human race incorporated the night hours into its schedules. And that was momentous. For, up to that time, night was a time to eat, to tell stories, and to sleep. Jesus, living in the pre-mechanical time, makes reference to that. He says, “Nighttime comes when no one can work.” Now we say “Work and shop until you drop” at the stores, and factories are open 24-hours-a-day.
The mechanical clock tempts us to fill every hour, every minute and every second of our lives with a thousand bits of busy-ness that leave us no time for God, or for ourselves. Advertisers add to the problem by compressing time for us. In July they advertise back-to-school sales; in September, Christmas gifts; at Ash Wednesday, Easter finery; in May, summer sales. They move us constantly round and round like squirrels on a wheel, never giving us the time to savor the current celebration and mystery, in the hot economic pursuit of the next.
With the New Year, many of us make resolutions. Studies have found that New Year’s resolutions are usually not very effective. We often make too many of them, or we do not think them through, or prepare for them very well. As a result, they do not have roots. Taking a cue from the Gospel, maybe instead of resolutions, maybe we should make reflections. The Gospel says that when Mary heard what the angel told the shepherds, she “kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.”
Maybe a good reflection question is not whether my life is moving, but where my life is moving. Is it toward God, or away from God? God’s plan has a certain rhythm to it, and my life does too. I need to be attentive to that. Just because some choices are available to me now does not mean that they will necessarily be available always and everywhere.
“Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?”
“And the one who was seated on the throne said, ‘See, I am making all things new.”
With our trust in you, O Lord, we look forward to the days and weeks and months that lie ahead, knowing that they will never fail to reveal signs of Your providence. Rejoicing in You, we reach out to embrace all the moments and occasions of the coming year, knowing that they will ever surprise us with opportunities for celebrating Your salvation. May times of happiness teach us the depth of Your love. May times of adversity teach us the reach of Your care. In all times may we bless You, Father, Son, and Spirit, in whom it is our destiny to live, forever and ever. Amen.