July 20, 2018
When Hezekiah was mortally ill, the prophet Isaiah, son of Amoz, came and said to him: “Thus says the LORD: Put your house in order, for you are about to die; you shall not recover.” . . . ( Well, as the story went, Hezekiah prayed earnestly to God that death might pass him by. And God responded with lenience.) Hezekiah asked, “What is the sign that I shall go up to the temple of the LORD?” Isaiah answered: “This will be the sign for you from the LORD that he will do what he has promised: See, I will make the shadow cast by the sun on the stairway to the terrace of Ahaz go back the ten steps it has advanced.” Is_38:1-6,21-22,7-8
Jesus said to the Pharisees, “If you knew what this meant, I desire mercy, not sacrifice, you would not have condemned these innocent men. For the Son of Man is Lord of the sabbath.” Mt_12:1-8
Sometimes we seem to have such an issue with Time. We have our alarm clocks, our calendars, our birthdays, and our deadlines. And if we’re not careful, we just might find ourselves obsessed with time; obsessed to the point of allowing time to control our very lives. And in the process, time can actually become – our substitute god!
And yet, we know that our true God is the Master of all time. We know that in His Eternal Being, there really – is – no time. And it’s in this context, that we reflect on today’s Scriptures.
In our first reading, King Hezekiah was facing the end of his earthly life. His life was at – what he and we would consider: the “early age” – of 39 years. He had already done so much in his 14-years, as King of Judah, by bringing his people back to the Lord. And He wanted to DO so very much more! And just like any of us would do in the same situation, Hezekiah whole-heartedly prayed to God for an extension of Time.
But, you know what, I don’t think that God could care less about how much Time Hezekiah had left. And yet, we know that our God is a God of compassion and mercy. And if it BE His will, as it was in the case of Hezekiah, out of His boundless love, God not only granted Hezekiah’s desire, but He granted it in abundance:
– Fifteen-years were added to Hezekiah’s life,
– The entire city was rescued from its enemies,
– And God promised the whole city’s protection for the rest of Hezekiah’s life.
Then, just to add a little comic relief to the whole, Time-related episode, God gave Hezekiah that infamous, 3-days – of Time – for healing and restoration, which also happened to be prophetic of the three days between the death and resurrection of Jesus.
And then, to prove or seal His promise with Hezekiah – God actually had time go backwards, on the city’s ancient sundial.
It was Love – in abundance and with humor to show the silliness of worry about time!
Hezekiah was so filled with joy and thanksgiving, that his famous “Song of Thanksgiving,” that we heard as our Responsorial Psalm today, has become one of the primary readings in the morning prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours.
Then quickly stepping into our Gospel Reading today, we again see another conflict with Time, as we look at our ever-familiar contention between Jesus and the Pharisees.
Here the Pharisees, of course with all kinds of ulterior motives, were nit-picking Jesus about all of those Sabbath rules again. And despite their Pharisaic legalism, Jesus proved their hypocrisy by showing how they, themselves regularly broke the same rules for their own selfish benefit.
Jesus told them that just because it was a Sabbath, that didn’t give them the right to act inhumanely to people in need. Temple sacrifices, He said, should never take priority over compassion and mercy.
You see, it all has to do with TIME!
When we prioritize God over time, when we prioritize mercy over schedules, God will always see to it that we have all the time we’ll ever need. Whether we enjoy this life for just a few moments, or for 100-years, the Son of Man, our Jesus, is the Lord of and for all Time!