New Year offers chance to dedicate time to service

Reflections on Life
By Father Jerome LeDoux, SVD
Ideally, just as Thanksgiving Day should motivate us to give thanks to God every day for everyone and everything, so should Christmas Day inspire us to give unselfishly year round, just as God so generously gave us on Christmas Day all that even God had to give.
We hear Philippians 2:6-7, “Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be clung to. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness.”
Is service typified in anyone more strongly that in a slave? Of course not. But because of its ugly history, not a single one of us wants to be a servant, let alone a slave.
Yet, as a grown man of thirty years, Jesus himself gave us the ultimate reason for his birth, the unvarnished mission statement for the purpose of his life, and the clear reason why the bereaved, the afflicted and the brokenhearted have every reason to take heart and feel forever united to their dear ones here and in heaven.
Imagine that! We poor, often hapless humans do everything we can to evade being called “slave.”
Yet, God, the Creator of all, who owed nothing to anyone, gave his Son as ransom for all of us who seem more lemming-like bent on self-destruction than on prizing those persons and things that will lead us to the Land of the Living.
All those realities are wrapped up in Matthew 20:28, “The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Following Jesus, Paul states in 1 Corinthians 9:19, “Although I am free in regard to all, I have made myself a slave to all so as to win over as many as possible.”
Turning to the new year, we cannot give/serve for 365 days, but only one day at a time – only today. Most glaring of all is the fact that not one of us is guaranteed any day beyond today. The new year begins not only on January 1, for each day of the year is a new beginning.
As Alice Morse Earle puts it, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift. That’s why we call it the present.”
I never tire of quoting the recovering alcoholics of Alcoholics Anonymous, “Yesterday is a cancelled check. Tomorrow is a promissory note. But today is ready cash.” And, “Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday.”
Nor do I grow weary of quoting Rev. Dr. Benjamin E. Mays’ take on the profound relevance of every single minute of each day. Dr. Mays’ source for this quote is an unknown sage who speaks to our grandiose Happy New Year!
I’ve only just a minute,
Only sixty seconds in it.
Forced upon me – can’t refuse it,
Didn’t seek it, didn’t choose it,
But it’s up to me to use it.
I must suffer if I lose it,
Give an account if I abuse it,
Just a tiny little minute –
But eternity is in it.
If we resolve to treat the 60-second intervals of each day in such an urgent and reverential fashion, every day would bring us endless riches far beyond gold, platinum, silver, precious stones or the most extreme earthly values imaginable.
But, instead of caressing time and making the best use of even its smallest components while they are still within our grasp, we myopic humans tend to view time as taking too long to pass or being draggy and thus causing boredom. Beyond credibility, many actually pursue pastimes in an effort to make the time pass faster.
They seem to be hastening to conclude Andy Rooney’s untidy little simile, “Life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes.”
Instead of squandering the irreplaceable treasures and benefits of a New Year, and, much more importantly, of each priceless moment of our allotted days, we would do well to remember the meditation of Henry Van Dyke,
Time is too slow for those who wait,
too swift for those who fear,
too long for those who grieve,
too short for those who rejoice,
but, for those who love, time is eternity.
“God is love, and all who abide in love abide in God and God in them.” (1 John 4:16)
(Father Jerome LeDoux, SVD, has written “Reflections on Life since 1969.)