Sunday, July 27, 2014

How do you spend 168 hours? 17th Sunday of Ordinary Time

            I recently read an excellent book by Matthew Kelly (the same author of Rediscover Catholicism) called The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic.  I highly recommend this book as an inspiration in your faith.  This morning I want to focus on one of the lines that really stood out to me.  Kelly wrote, “You can’t improve what you don’t measure.”
            God gives us 168 hours a week.  Have you ever assessed how you spend this time?  Subtract out the time you sleep and consider—how much time do I spend at work?  With my family?  Golfing, fishing or watching sports?  One question that continues to surprise me—how much time do I spend watching television or playing on my cell phone?  And the most important question of all: how much time do I give to God?
            Our time should be devoted to God, both in direct ways (like coming to Mass and praying) but also throughout the various activities we do on a daily basis.  By thanking God for the chance to fish, we can offer an afternoon on the lake to Him.  By asking Him to bless our workday, this to can be time used to serve God.  In fact, there is nothing (save something sinful) that cannot be offered to God throughout our day.
            I mention this because our readings focus on putting first things first.  Jesus gives us some vivid parables to demonstrate this call.  He explains: “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”  This person doesn’t sell part of what he owns, his surplus or his leftovers.  He sells all that he has to acquire the treasure.  So, too, does the merchant: “When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.”
            In another place in the Gospels, Jesus reminds us, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”  It is helpful to consider how we spend our time each week to assess where our heart really is.
            We have two examples before us who put first things first.  In the first reading, God gave Solomon a blank check: “Ask something of me and I will give it to you.”  He could have asked for anything he wanted, and he chose wisdom—the ability to serve God and the people under his care.  God’s response: “Because you have asked for this—not for a long life for yourself, nor for riches, nor for the life of your enemies, but for understanding so that you may know what is right—I do as you requested.”  In the next verses after this section, God promises to also give everything that Solomon did not ask as well.
            Second, consider our patron—St. Thomas Aquinas.  To say he was brilliant would be an understatement.  He could dictate four or five different works at the same time.  He would give one scribe a paragraph to write, then turn to the next and give a different subject.  He would go all the way around the circle and begin again.  His most famous work, the Summa Theologica, is a five volume theological and philosophical work that is an exhaustive explanation of our faith.  His introduction states that is intended “for the beginner”! 
            Near the end of his life, Jesus appeared to Thomas and said, “You have written well of me, Thomas, what shall your reward be?”  Thomas’ reply: “Only you Lord.”  Only you, Lord.  Thomas chose God above everything else.
            Look at the way you spend your time this week.  How can you give more of your time to God in order to put Him first and make Him your treasure.

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