When someone in the family celebrates a birthday, how fast time flies is brought to mind. Recently our grandson turned 21, and the memories of his early childhood brought a smile of wonder to my face. How fast time goes by!
As we enjoy the beginning of a new year and we read the gospels in the post-Christmas liturgies, our focus turns from the birth of our Savior to his public ministry. Scripture tells of Jesus reading from a scroll in the synagogue, healing many people of illnesses, teaching crowds, feeding thousands with only five loaves of bread and two fish, and even walking on water. What a jump from an infant lying in a manger to a 30-something adult teaching and working miracles!
What can we learn from this transition? For one thing, it is important to remember and celebrate milestones. The birth of the Christ child was an unprecedented breakthrough in history. God became visible on earth in the person of a human being! If he did not come as a human comes, how would he grow to be a 30-year-old rabbi? He experienced years of humanity with all its ups and downs, with its desperate challenges.
Jesus was taught how to pray, to work, and to be responsible; we hopefully teach our children to do those things as well. As an adult, Jesus ministered to the multitudes, but often used time away to pray. Prayer is an important part of proper growth. If we want to continue to grow spiritually, we must pray. We pray to keep up with life events as they speedily present themselves to us. Prayer helps us to keep up the pace.
Mary and Joseph were resilient. They responded to challenges with faith-filled action. They had to adjust to Jesus’ being born in a stable. They had to flee to Egypt for safety when Jesus was an infant. Travel was not easy or comfortable, but they did it. They did not have a network of family and friends to help them in their journeys. They trusted God to give them strength and hope.
With parents like that, no wonder Jesus was strong and persevering. We can use our time to strive for this same resiliency. Jesus was probably very tired as he preached to and healed so many people, but he kept going. His three years of public ministry were life-changing for many followers. As time passed, his message of love and forgiveness spread, and even today we dutifully, gratefully pass it on.
Jesus walked among us for about 33 years, and the last three especially can teach us not to waste our time on earth. We should examine our lives,, where we are right now as the year is new, and resolve to use our energy to bring healing to those in need, food to the hungry, and the good news of salvation to young and old alike. Our efforts may not be so miraculous as Jesus’ actions were, but even small accomplishments over time can make big differences.
Let us keep in mind what St. Paul wrote to the Ephesians:
Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most
of the time, because the days are evil. So do not be foolish, but understand what
the will of the Lord is. Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be
filled with the Spirit, as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among
yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks
to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus
Christ. (Eph 5:15-20)
Painting, Feeding Multitudes, Bernardo Strozzi (1581-1644)
The scripture passage is from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Sharon Krause is a RENEW volunteer whose writing has appeared in several resources for small-group faith sharing. She is a wife, mother, and grandmother residing in Manchester, Connecticut. Over the years, she has served in many parish ministries.