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If you are close to God, time is always short.
Have you ever had an experience where it seems like time froze? That things started going so slow because your mind was moving so fast? Some people say that in a car accident or some other close call, that their whole life flashes before their eyes. Time may roll on at a steady pace, but it doesn’t always feel that way to us. It may seem like some things take forever to get finished, like high school. Or perhaps a bad meeting. On the other hand, “time flies when you’re having fun.”
For God, time is very different. It seems to him that everything is flashing by quite quickly. For example, the prophet Isaiah gives this beautiful testimony about the coming of the Messiah “on that day” – but “that day” is going to be almost 600 years later. God is speaking hope to the people of Israel, six centuries in advance. That’s a long time, for us.
But if you are in tune with God, time is short, or rather always urgent. Like the prophet Isaiah did in the first reading, John the Baptist shows us this quite clearly in today’s Gospel. He makes it clear that there is no time for dilly-dallying.
“Repent for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand” (within reach)
“The ax lies at the root of the trees.”
“Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?”
Baby Jesus may be coming at Christmas, but we are challenged to be ready for the presence of Jesus the Messiah, the new King of David’s line, who will “judge the poor with justice” and “slay the wicked with the breath of his lips.” When a just king comes to power, the only people that need to fear are the unjust.
If we haven’t been living as we should, (like the Pharisees and Sadducees) we hear the call from John to “Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance.”
So are we going through life as if there’s all the time in the world? Are we finding ourselves “sleepwalking” like spiritual zombies? John the Baptist or Isaiah have some good advice for us: Spend some time drawing close to the Lord and you will realize that time is precious, it flies away from us, and we need to make the choice now to give ourselves completely to Jesus. He will be your king. It makes all the difference if we live that way freely now, or if we live as if we are king.
One final note: “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” This theme also unites the reading from Isaiah to the Gospel passage. The Holy Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead is also yours by Baptism. Ask that Spirit to stir up in you, to keep you awake, and to deepen your choice for Christ the King. For time is urgent, and our time here is short.