By Fr Munachi E. Ezeogu, cssp
Homily for 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time - on the Epistle
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Making the Most of the Time

Proverbs 9:1-6 Ephesians 5:15-20 John 6:51-58

A teacher was demonstrating to her students the importance of time management. She put an open jar on the table and got one of the students to fill the jar with stones. When the jar was filled to the top and no more stones would fit inside, she asked, "Is the jar full?" Everyone in the class said, "Yes." She said, "I don't think so." Next she produced a pack of gravels and asked another student to try and put the gravels into the jar. The student only needed to shake the jar a little and much of the gravels went into the jar, in the spaces between the stones, until the jar could take no more. Again the teacher asked the class "Is the jar full?" By this time the class was more suspicious. "Probably not," one of them said. Next, she brought out a pack of fine sand and asked one of the students to empty it into the jar. Once again, with a little shaking, much of the sand went into the jar. Again, she asked, "Is the jar full?" This time the class shouted, "No." Finally she brought out a glass of water and began pouring it into the jar until it was filled to the brim. Then she looked up at the class and asked, "What is the point of this demonstration?"

One student answered that it means that no matter how much you have eaten, there is always room for a glass of beer. The class laughed. On a more serious note, another student answered that it means that no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard, you can always fit some more things into it. "You are both wrong," said the teacher. "The truth that this demonstration teaches is: If you don't put the big rocks in first, you'll never get them in at all." The big rocks are the really important things and the sand are the not so important things in our lives. If we want to get done the things that we consider really important in our lives, we must get them in first before we focus on the less important ones. St Paul must have this truth in mind when, in today's second reading, he asked the Christians of Ephesus to make the most of the time (Ephesians 5:16).

As Christians we all have high ideals and lofty intentions. Why is it that some of us succeed in achieving their dreams and aspirations while others seem not to be able to accomplish their good resolutions? The answer lies in the way we manage our time. Those who give priority attention to what they consider most important in their lives achieve these and still have room for fun. Those who give their first attention to what is easy and whatever presents itself keep procrastinating on when they will get to doing the really important things and then discover that they never get there.

For us to live wisely, time management is of the essence. This is true especially for us believers with our lofty dreams and ideals. With time all things are possible. With no time, nothing is possible. That is why Paul advises us in these words:

Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, 16 making the most of the time because the days are evil. 17 So do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (Ephesians 5:15-17)

Everyone has the same amount of time given to us everyday. Those who spend it on what really matters to them achieve much. Those who spend it on trivialities have nothing to show for it at the end of the day. For Paul, understanding and doing the will of the Lord always matters.

Do you know someone who made a new year resolution, say, to make a daily devotion or to read the Bible everyday? Experience teaches that those who schedule these exercise as early in the day as possible, have a greater chance of succeeding in their resolve. Those, on the other hand, who begin the day on Facebook or by switching on the television, hoping to find time later in the day for their devotional, are less likely to succeed in their resolve. We must put in the stones first; the sand can come later.

Some of us think that it is Christian virtue to relegate to the last what is really important to us, occupying ourselves with what others want. Julius Caesar's belief that "What touches us ourself shall be last served" was his greatest mistake. He was given a letter warning him of the plot to assassinate him and told to read it immediately because it was so important but he chose to put it aside and read it later. He did not live to do so. Today, Let us resolve to wake up each morning and start with the things that mean most to us. The others can wait. This is how to make the best of the time God has given us.

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