I got some e-mail feedback on my last homily. A lady wrote me to tell me that in the middle of my brilliant talk her young daughter looked over at her and said – “Mommy if we give them the money now will he stop talking!”
I wanted to take this opportunity to share with you a story someone sent me before Christmas.
It is about a man named Jack – a successful business man with a family – he lived a busy life. He had long since moved across the country to pursue his career and only got back to his hometown on rare occasions. Mr. Belser, the old man who lived next store to him when he was a kid had just died and at his mother’s urging Jack had returned for the funeral.
Jack’s Mom said to him “Jack, Mr. Belser never forget you. Every time I saw him he’d ask how you were doing. He’d reminisce about the many days you spent over ‘his side of the fence’ as he put it. You know, Jack, after your father died, Mr. Belser stepped in to make sure you had a man’s influence in your life,” she said
“He’s the one who taught me carpentry,” he said. “I wouldn’t be in this business if it weren’t for him. He spent a lot of time teaching me things he thought were important…Mom, I am glad I came back for the funeral,” Jack said.
They went for one last visit to Mr. Belser’s house. It was like crossing over into another dimension, a leap through space and time the house was exactly as he remembered. Every step held memories. Every picture, every piece of furniture….Jack stopped suddenly.
“What’s wrong, Jack?” his Mom asked
“The box is gone,” he said
“What box?” Mom asked.
“There was a small gold box that he kept locked on top of his desk. I must have asked him a thousand times what was inside. All he’d ever tell me was ‘the thing I value most,'” Jack said. Jack figured someone from the Belser family had taken it.
About two weeks after Mr. Belser died; Jack received a package at his home. The small box was old and looked like it had been mailed a hundred years ago. The handwriting was difficult to read, but the return address caught his attention.. “Mr. Harold Belser” it read. Jack ripped open the package. There inside was the gold box and an envelope. Jack’s hands shook as he read the note inside.
“Upon my death, please forward this box and its contents to Jack Bennett. It’s the thing I valued most in my life.” A small key was taped to the letter. His heart racing, as tears filling his eyes, Jack carefully unlocked the box. There inside he found a beautiful gold pocket watch.
Running his fingers slowly over the finely etched casing, he unlatched the cover. Inside he found these words engraved:
“Jack, Thanks for your time! -Harold Belser.” “The thing he valued most was….my time”
The story raises and interesting question for each of us: How are we spending our time? (Notice how we use the phrase ‘Spending time’)
In our readings today we are introduced to the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 1 Verse 1. For this entire liturgical year- which began on the 1stSunday of Advent- we will primarily read about Jesus through the words of the evangelist Luke who wrote this story down for a person he refers to as the most excellent Theopolis .
The entire story of the New Testament is one of God loving us so much that he sent us his only Son to be with us.
Jesus came into the world to spend time with us.
Much of our Lord’s time on earth was spent walking; Alexander Shira in his book beyond the Biography of Jesus says that Luke’s gospel is painted on the tapestry, the backdrop of the road. Much of the action takes place while Jesus and the disciples are walking- taking their time getting from place to place. The relationship between Jesus and the disciples is strengthened as they spend time walking.
The gospel stories often encourage us to evaluate how we are using your time in three key areas of our lives:
First– How do you spend your time with God and in particular with Jesus?
Coming to mass, praying, celebrating the sacraments are all ways we Catholic’s spend time with God. One special way to spend Jesus- an often-overlooked gift by us Catholics – is time spent reading, reflecting and living with the Word- with the bible.
Therefore, we are challenged this year to go on the road with Jesus by reading all of Luke’s gospel –exploring and thinking about how we are using your time.
Second– The gospel asks us to examine how we spend our time with those we love, those closest to us. The challenge today is that we live in the world of the Blackberry where we fill the schedules of the entire family with activities that leave little time for building lasting relationships.
When we follow the model of Christ, we make time to be with our loved ones. No big plans, no to-do list to get accomplished, just spending- actually, a better way to phrase this is giving away- some of our time and truly experiencing the joy of care free timelessness.
And the finally: and in many ways the biggest challenge- giving away some of our time to another person- perhaps a complete stranger, someone in need- to the one’s Jesus calls the least of our brothers and sisters.
As faithful servants of the Lord we are to be the ones that will sit and listen to a person in need, a person who can in no way do anything for us – a person considered by most of those around us to be a waste of time. If we find the courage to do this we may well be surprised how much of an impact the gift of our time can have on such a person and on our own lives.
Spending our time with the least of our brothers and sisters is the most basic element of our faith and our call to stewardship.
My most excellent Theopolis- this story has been written for you so that you might know that God wants to spend time with you-so spend some time walking with Jesus in Luke’s gospel, explore the wonders of care-free timelessness with those you love and experience the joy of sharing your time with a person in need.
How we use our time will become our memories and it is our memories that we end up valuing most in life. When our time on earth has ended-and we meet our God- perhaps the sign of a life well lived will be God handing us a gold box with a watch inside with the inscription:
“My Child- Thanks for your time!”