Good, but for time.

I tell you, brothers and sisters, the time is running out.

Last week we encountered the first disciples and Jesus’ call to come follow Him. We heard Nathaniel wonder, like we may from time to time, if anything good could come from him and Jesus’ answer to all of us.

Jesus saw something in the disciples that surprised them. Instead of seeing rotten, no good sinners, people out of whom nothing good could come, Jesus saw people He loved and with a great future. Jesus knows the good that can come from people who follow Him and invites us.

Reassured that we are loved, and with expectations of greatness set for us by Jesus, what stops us from following Jesus more closely, from being that disciple who proclaims the closeness of the kingdom, of giving others the opportunity to repent and know that they are loved and also have a great future?

The common response, Good can come from me, but for time. Good can come from me, Jesus says so, but for time…

The answer is not to ‘make time.’ It is not that easy. We are pulled in many directions with varied responsibilities, so trite statements about making time are unhelpful. We could call in a time management consultant, but who has time to do that?

The answer to the time problem is exactly the lack of time. It is the urgency of the current moment. When something becomes pressing, urgent, we automatically reprioritize what we are doing. In life threatening moments we stop worrying about the laundry, making dinner, browsing Twitter or Snap Chat, or Facebook.

What we may be failing to recognize is that this is a life-threatening moment. Each moment is life threatening for those who fail to repent, to turn back to God and for those who fail to call them to repentance. 

We saw it with Jonah. Jonah didn’t have the time to go and do God’s work, he ran away, he was unpersuaded by God’s urgency and if God had not persuaded him otherwise, the people of Nineveh might have been destroyed in their sin. Yet they were saved due to Jonah’s call, their repentance, and God’s mercy.

As Paul tells the Corinthians, time is running out. We need to take that seriously and understand how dependent others access to eternal life in heaven is on us. Yes, Jesus loves us and confirms us in goodness, the good that can come from us, but we have to get up and proclaim that powerful message: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

Yes, we have a time problem. There is a lack of time and the moment is urgent. Now is the time for goodness to flow from our following Jesus.

whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Welcome to the season of Pre-Lent, Septuagesima. This season is set apart as a time of reflective preparation for the upcoming Lenten season. We notice about us a penitential mood. The colors go to purple and rose. The Gloria is no longer proclaimed. The Alleluia is suppressed and is replaced by a Tract. The dismissal is “Let us bless the Lord.”

This time of preparation means we are to desire to turn to the reality of what life must be. It is the clearing away of the dust and cobwebs, the pushing out of darkness and confusion, and a realization that there is light, a way, a goodness that brings eternal life. It is a realization that life is not to be defined by what the crowds or noisemakers say, but by what Jesus defines.

Throughout this season we hear Jesus’ teachings from the Sermon on the Mount. In many of these teachings, Jesus draws comparisons saying: “You have heard that it was said… But I say” This helps us, in this season, to reflect on what we hear all the time, what we have heard in the past, and what we will likely hear in the future; that noise of the crowd, and to turn away from it to the clarity Jesus has given.

In preparing let us view what Jesus says through the lens Sirach focuses for us today: If you choose you can keep the commandments, they will save you; if you trust in God, you shall live; he has set before you fire and water to whichever you choose, stretch forth your hand. Before man are life and death, good and evil, whichever he chooses shall be given him.

The noise of the age, the noise of the world past, present, and future cannot save us. That noise counts as nothing. Man’s interpretation is, at its essence, self-serving and meritless. Seek rather the music of Jesus, the beautiful call to live righteous lives. Jesus’ way is the clarity we really need. His direction is the way of life, teachings we can trust in, water for life, good, and life eternal. Now is the time to choose. Now is the time to stretch forth our hands to wipe the old away and to return to life. We must turn to Jesus’ way.

Jesus commandments, His way, His fulfillment, His right interpretation is for us. Yes, it is for us, to make us great in the kingdom! Now is the moment, now the time to turn to His definitions, now to follow His way without limit. Now.