As it could not be otherwise, the Coronavirus pandemic finds its way into almost any conversation you can have nowadays. Amidst all the negatives, people try to look for silver linings and lessons to be learned from the current situation. In this regard, on more than a few occasions, I have heard it said that “having more time and living at a slower pace” has been good.
I find this to be a sobering remark. As it is, the reality is not that we have more time. Indeed, the amount of time we have is the same: the day has the same 24 hrs as it did before the pandemic. Instead, what has happened is that the time we have, we have had to spend in different ways than we did before.
Nonetheless, the remark is significant. For many, the pandemic has served as a reminder that time is precious because, in a way, it is all we have. Every day that goes by, we have less of it. Therefore, for many, the lockdowns and restrictions have been a wake-up call to recognize how important it is to use well the time that we have.
In this regard, the Gospel for today provides us with an important lesson. As the disciples begin to follow Jesus, he turns around and asks: “what are you looking for?” The disciples reply: “Rabbi, where are you staying?” Jesus invites them to ‘come and see.’ They follow him and remain with Him that day. Notice that this stands in direct contrast with the responses that Jesus will later get to His invitation (Lk. 9:59-62); answers that are more akin to the fast-paced modern civilization. Yet, if we are to grow in our relationship with God and see the fruits of it, we have to follow the example of the disciples and spend time with the Lord. Time carved out from our busy lives for prayer is not time wasted. In fact, there is no advancement in the spiritual life without prayer, without time devoted to getting to know the Lord.
There is still another lesson to be learned from the disciples in today’s Gospel. Contrary to what our fast-paced society would want us to believe, the value of things is in their doing and not necessarily in being able to cross them off the to-do list. Technology and science have striven to cut time in all aspects of life, such as communication, learning, transportation, etc. Although this has positive consequences, it also creates the mindset that there is no value in actually spending time doing things. Why? Because it takes time. However, the reality is that it is precisely in the doing that value resides. It is the time spent in prayer, writing a research paper, or calling up a friend, which gives value to those activities. Not merely being able to check them off as done. If I rush through them simply so that I can cross them off the list, then I’m being cheated of actually growing in my relationship with God, learning the content of my research paper, or cultivating a friendship. The disciples knew this and were desirous to know where Jesus is staying so that they could stay with Him. In other words, so that they could spend time with Him. It is in being with Him that they come to know and learn from Him.
This Sunday, let us reflect on the use we make of our time. Let us ponder about the things that may be getting in the way of spending time with the Lord in prayer and about the areas where we are perhaps being cheated from the real value of learning or relationships by taking shortcuts.
I leave you with Gandalf’s wise words to Frodo: “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
Santiago Torres – St. Joseph Seminary, Edmonton, Alberta
Fot. Łukas Blazek/Unsplash.com