The Gift of Time
5th Sunday of Easter
May 2, 2021
“[My Father] takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit,
And every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.”
Once for Christmas I received a very unusual gift from an old friend—a five-decade rosary with different dates on each decade. It was an intriguing gift that I have pondered often. On the first decade, the day of my birth is listed (one number per bead); then my baptism day on the second decade of beads (which was the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary!); then first communion; then ordination to priesthood. But the last decade was blank—no date. Did she make a mistake when making this rosary for me?
Why in the world did the last decade have no date? Because it records the date of something that has not occurred yet – the day of my death! It is just a bit creepy to see that blank spot – but in reality, our whole life is summed up by what happens on the last day of our lives, a day we would just as soon not look at much of the time.
The most precious gift God has given us in this world is the gift of time. We only get so much of this. Imagine – some babies get only a few hours to live, while others live well past one hundred. Time is given to us, in the end, so that we will have the freedom to choose – by our faith and by our life – to be for God (or against him). As long as we live, one aspect of our lives that God will never take away is our free will.
At the moment of death, our free will and the time to choose God in faith, will come to an end. The Lord will then reveal to the soul all of the choices that it has made, from early childhood to the last breath. The soul will see all the ways it has influenced others and made a difference in the circumstances and events that this soul was given in life. It will also see the many ways God was present to the soul, helping it and guiding it on a journey that was meant to lead home to God. Each choice we make while we still live in time is forming us into the kind of being we will be in eternity.
If only we could appreciate now how precious this gift of time really is. How true it is that our entire eternal future may be dependent on one decision freely given. Such moments are often not recognized until they are past. When Jesus prunes us by means of sufferings and trials, he does this so that we will enter eternity with more fruit. Everything he allows or wills in our lives he does because he sees how limited our time on earth really is; and he wishes us to make the most of it before the last date is entered on the rosary of significant dates in our lives.