There is a story about a few demons who were having a conversation about the Devil’s favorite day.
One demon said, I think the devils favorite day is Halloween - because the little kids dress up like monsters, and demons, and other scary things. It just has to be the devil’s favorite day.
Another demon said, no, Halloween is just one day a year. I think the devil’s favorite day is MONDAY - because who likes Mondays?? Mondays a lot of people curse just because they have to get out of bed and go to work after a couple of days off. Mondays just have to be the devil’s favorite day. . .
Another demon said, I don’t think the devil has just one favorite day - I think he has two: yesterday and tomorrow.
With yesterday, the devil draws people into dwelling on their past. He gets people to think of those who hurt them, causes them to have deep regret and to harbor grudges – and makes them think they have strayed so far from God - that they can never make their way back to God.
With tomorrow, the devil causes people to think that all the important changes they need to make, and all the things they need to do – can wait just one more day. All the wrongs that need to be righted, all the sins that need to be forgiven, all the people that need to be helped – it can all wait – until tomorrow.
This demon concluded that if the devil can get people to focus on yesterday and tomorrow, it will keep them from following Jesus – today - which is exactly what the devil wants to achieve.
An appropriate story, I think, because all of our readings today have something to do with TIME – and how we use it, or don’t use it, wisely.
Jonah is sent by God to announce to the Ninevites that they have a short period of time in order to repent and convert from their wickedness.
St. Paul writes the Corinthians that their time is running out - thinking that the world in its present form is soon to pass away.
And Jesus, in the very first words he speaks in the Gospel of Mark is about time: “this is the time of fulfillment. . . repent and believe in the Gospel.”
There is a since of urgency in all these readings today. It’s not a time to dilly-dally – but a time to get busy.
During the season of Ordinary Time, which we are in now for another three weeks until the beginning of Lent – and then the longer stretch of Ordinary Time from June until the beginning of Advent – the Church reflects upon how we use the ordinary moments of our day – how we are at our best when we reflect the virtues and love of Jesus in the ordinary events and circumstances and times of our lives.
Bur remember, the Devil likes to tell us lies about our relationship with time. Satan likes when we are stuck in the past, focussing on our past sins and failures, wounds and hurts. He likes to keep family members and church members focused on the actions of the past - because it then keeps us from loving God TODAY.
The devil urges us to keep mental lists of the ways people have hurt us. But we need to get rid of the lists! If we think we have been wronged in some way in the past by someone – then we need to have a conversation about that so the wound can be healed – so we can let go of it – and move on. . .
So the devil likes to tell us lies about the past - but he also likes to tell us lies about the future. Since satan especially hates the time we give to God, one very common lie is that “you are too busy to pray.” Satan does everything possible to prevent us from praying - of continuing to form our relationship with God - he gets us to think the groceries that need to be purchased or the lunches that need to be made, or the home-improvement projects that need to be done are much more important.
One of the devil’s new victories against prayer is getting people overly attached to their mobile devices. Many people do have less and less time to pray because they are too busy with social media or video games.
There certainly is less time in the day when you spend an hour checking your Facebook feed or an hour playing solitaire on your computer, or checking to see what the newest You-Tube may be about . . .
Another lie the Devil tells us about the future is that we have plenty of time to read the scriptures, go to Mass, repent of our sins – TOMORROW.
Just recall all the readings we had at the end of the liturgical year and into Advent about being watchful and alert – for we do not know the hour or the day when Christ will come.
Another lie Satan tells us about time, and this is a big one, one that keeps us locked in very selfish modes of thinking and acting – is that all our time belongs to us.
Satan makes us think that it is a grievous burden when people make demands on our time, or that I have to give any of my time or use any of my talents for the benefit of others. . . I can just keep them all to myself. . .
We heard St. Paul tell the Romans last week that their bodies, through Baptism, become temples of the Holy Spirit. Our bodies as Christians do not belong to us - and by extension that means our time doesn’t belong to us either.
We are given time by God as a gift – to become as holy as we possibly can – to fulfill God’s will to the best of our abilities – to order our lives according to the wisdom of God’s holy will.
After announcing that the time of fulfillment is at hand, and that we are to repent of our sins, what does Jesus do in the Gospel today?? He puts the apostles to work! To be a member of the Body of Christ, whether we are 13 or 93 – a priest, widow, married person, child, or single – means to use the time, and talents, we have been given for the work of the Gospel – pointing others to Christ.
So our time doesn’t belong to us – we’re on the clock – we’re on the job – we are to be building the kingdom of God in our midst.
And we accomplish this primarily through our good example, our uplifting words, our kind and generous actions, and hopeful and joyful disposition.
We are to leave everything and follow after Jesus – and he will make us fishers of men and women.
Moments in time...