Thoughts for December 15 from Fr Willie Doyle

God has many gifts to bestow upon us, but none more precious than time. Yet how we abuse this royal gift! How little we think of it! How we despise these golden moments, moments whose true value we shall not really prize till alas! too late – when time shall be no more to us.

COMMENT: Time is a precious gift. When it comes to time, every one is, in a sense equal. Some will have longer lives than others, but for each of us our individual days are the same – rich and poor alike all have 24 hours in the day. We can use it well, or we can squander it. But however many days we have, and however we choose to use each of those hours God has given us, one thing is clear – when we die we shall have to render an account of how we have used our time.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church makes this very clear:

Death puts an end to human life as the time open to either accepting or rejecting the divine grace manifested in Christ…Each man receives his eternal retribution in his immortal soul at the very moment of his death, in a particular judgment that refers his life to Christ: either entrance into the blessedness of heaven – through a purification or immediately – or immediate and everlasting damnation.

The Year of Mercy gives us an excellent opportunity to remember that we must make efforts to practice the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. In Chapter 25 of St Matthew’s Gospel Jesus describes the Last Judgement and the separation of the sheep and the goats. The “goats” are those who did not practice the works of mercy. It’s not necessarily the case that they did bad things, but rather that they failed to do good things. They failed to feed and clothe the poor, to do the good that was expected of them. In a sense, they squandered the precious gift of time that they were given, they failed to use it to do good things. And in the Lord’s own words, their punishment is the eternal fire of Hell. 

Few of us consistently use our time well – it is a hard battle, especially in a world with so many distractions. The key thing is that we try, and that we turn to the mercy of God when we fail in our efforts. 

Detail showing a soul condemned to Hell in Michaelangelo's The Last Judgement (Sistine Chapel)
Detail showing a soul condemned to Hell in Michaelangelo’s The Last Judgement (Sistine Chapel)

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