(Pull out a 3×5 index card – and start ‘reading’ the answer.) “This TV game show is known by this signature theme song during the final round.” <<play audio>> If you answered:”What is Jeopardy?”, you would be correct. It is hard for me to hear that song without a sense of the ticking of my own internal life clock. It reminds me, like it reminds the contestants, that there is only so much time left. Someday for all of us, life will be up.
People react differently to that news.
- Some think they would love to be relieved of this world and welcome death because life hurts too much.
- Others cling to life because it is so good right now, and the thought of not being here is almost unbearable.
- Those who are the planners among us might dread the thought, but if there is to be an end, they want to know exactly when … and can be anxious that they do not know that
- Those among us who like to “go with the flow”, <point to self> can live in denial of that and think the time they have, the time we have, is infinite. So ‘Manana’ rules our day, while anxiety rules others.
However, when people find out via a doctor’s prognosis that the end is near, it changes them. The live differently out of the awareness of the shortage of time. They finish up important stuff at work and home. Perhaps they travel one last time. They pray more and go to confession and Mass more. They decide what mark they want to leave on this world – some by setting up trusts and wills to fund causes they believe in. Many reconcile. They help people.
What don’t they do? They don’t play video games or watch more TV. They don’t make excuses. They don’t waste time doing things that don’t matter to the well-being of anybody else. They don’t work more than 40 hour weeks at the office. They don’t hoard money or things. They don’t let fear stop them as it has up till now. They don’t fight about stupid stuff. They don’t say mean things to people they love. And they don’t take them for granted.
Literature written in the style of today’s scriptures – which we refer to as apocalyptic – reminds us that things end, and that endings are not easy. It feels like “heavens being shaken to their foundation, stars being swept from the sky, the moon not reflecting light”. Whether it is the end of a relationship or the end of life as we know it, enduring the ending of things takes great courage. And because endings are times of uncertainty, fear is great. But apocalyptic language also wants to open up another truth in us. Endings also tingle with expectation. They call forth Hope in us. They remind us this earth, this body, this relationship, this situation in life is not my ultimate home. And when we live with that sense of time ticking in our breast, then the endings of things are powerful, pregnant with purpose. Living in the awareness of time that is ending makes us strive to create and shape our hope for the future.
Jesus tells us clearly today that we do not know when the end will come. And so He invites us to live the end now. To live these days with a lightening-speed reordering of priorities. To live these days alert and sharply aware of everything. To live these days trusting the unknown future to God who is Love and Only Love and Forever Love.
So this week, in your prayer, ask yourself those “I’m running out of time” kind of questions:
Is there any goal to be realized or career change to be made or education to be sought? Now is the time to take the next step!
Any gift of wisdom to give or words to speak? Now is the time!
And risk to be taken, or forgiveness to be sought? Now is the time!
Any place to see or friend to call or visit? Now is the time!
Any prayer to be prayed or virtue to be embraced? Now is the time!
And act of service you have been putting off? Now is the time.
<start playing JEOPARDY music in background while I talk over it >Things end. Everything and everyone, has a deadline. Now is the time! For all those things we say are so important to us… < When music concludes say > “OOPS, TIME’S UP!”