byMost Reverend Gerald M. Barbarito, Bishop of Palm Beach
It may seem like only yesterday, but a year has passed since last New Year’s Day and we have entered another year. The beginning of a New Year and the so seemingly quick passage of time pose the question as to where we stand at the beginning of the year 2022. Like last year and the years before that, we have probably made some resolutions and may find ourselves again disappointed that they have not been kept when we get to a new year. The inevitable passage of time reminds us that “time waits for no one.” Perhaps the good use of passing time is a better focus for our resolutions rather than how successful we will or will not be in that time.
One of the greatest gifts we have and one of the greatest gifts we can give is our time. Time is something we cannot get back. During the Holiday Season that has just passed we may have spent a great deal of time wondering as to the best gift we could give someone. While that may be all well and good, a treasured gift we can always give to another is our time. Certainly COVID has taught us this lesson. To listen to another person, to be present to that person and to spend our time with that person are far better than any material gift. We do much more for others by giving our precious gift of passing time to them than giving them something in its place.
As the year 2022 begins we might resolve to spend more quality time with others, with our families and with God. Since time is the one thing we have to give away whether we want to or not, we should consider doing it well. We can be resentful that time is passing and selfishly try to cling to it or we can choose to generously give of it to others. Such generous giving of our time to others, family and God is what makes for a joyful life.
The Holy Family is a wonderful example of the generous use of time. At Nazareth, in the silence of their years there together, Jesus, Mary and Joseph gave each other the full gift of themselves. Not concerned about material possessions, their reputation with neighbors or success, they lived in love, sacrifice and meaningful work using each moment of time as a gift and not measuring it for their own purposes. They lived, prayed and grew as a true family by giving their time generously to each other.
Saint Teresa of Calcutta was fond of saying “God does not demand that I be successful. God demands that I be faithful. When facing God, results are not important. Faithfulness is what is important.” In a world so caught up in success, time is measured by how quickly results can be achieved. Faithfulness takes time and is, in fact, measured by time. Perhaps that is why faithfulness is so hard for our society to value. We have to give time to be faithful to others, to our families and to God. Too many would rather spend time for themselves. The Holy Family would have been considered unsuccessful by many of today’s standards precisely because they gave their time being faithful.
On the Feast of the Holy Family that just occurred on December 26, Pope Francis published a letter to all married couples throughout the world on the occasion of the “Amoris Laetitia Family” Year, 2021-2022. In his letter he mentions the many challenges that face families during our times including those which the COVID pandemic have provided. He concludes with words that give great hope in living our time well in 2022. He says, “May Saint Joseph inspire in all families a creative courage, so essential to these times of epochal change. May Our Lady help you to foster in your married lives the culture of encounter that we so urgently need in order to face today’s problems and troubles. No amount of difficulty can take away the joys of those who know that they are walking with the Lord ever at their side. Live out your vocation with enthusiasm. Never allow your faces to grow sad or gloomy; your husband or wife needs your smile. Your children need your looks of encouragement. Your priests and other families need your presence and your joy: the joy that comes from the Lord!”
At the beginning of the New Year as we enter the year 2022, the Holy Family reminds us that the passage of time is a gift from God in which we find Him, each other, and our families. As we ask ourselves the question, where do we stand at this point of time and what do we want to accomplish, we may consider using our time well and giving of it generously. Time with God in prayer, time with those who need to be reminded of God’s love and time with our families are the means to happiness in life. Time does indeed wait for no one, but no one also waits for time. It passes as God has meant it to. Let us use it well by being faithful and spending it generously. In that is our best New Year’s resolution.
Before you know it, the year 2022 will also be coming to a close. However, we will not be the same and how we stand will depend on how we spend our time which will pass no matter what. May the year 2022 be filled with what it offers – time. May that time be well and faithfully spent, no matter what challenges and circumstances it may bring.
A Blessed New Year to all!
Most Reverend Gerald M. Barbarito
January 7, 2022