There is an old saying–an aphorism—that we occasionally see on the faces of antique clocks. The Latin words, "tempus fugit," literally mean "time flies." They used to be printed on the faces of clocks to remind us that time is a precious, yet fleeting, commodity. It is one that will get away from us, and be ever gone and squandered if we don't make proper use of it.
Today's Epistle and Gospel speak to us about the Resurrection, Baptism, and the Holy Eucharist. If we are as conscious as we should be about the liturgical year, they will remind us of Easter. And that, in itself, is a good example of just how quickly time flies—for it is now 13 weeks after Easter—a full quarter of the year has gone by!
The church knows that we live in the world. And It knows that even if we kept a good Lent, and were enthusiastic about the feast of our redemption at Easter, we are likely to have let time slip away—and we are likely to have forgotten much of what we learned during that sacred season. So, the readings today are offered to us as something of a "refresher."
In the Epistle, St. Paul reminds us of our Lord's victory over sin and death by His dying on the cross, and by His rising from the dead. By paying the ultimate penalty, Christ has redeemed His people from the devil; paying the price of sin with His Blood.
But, perhaps more important for us, Jesus Christ has also incorporated us into His death and resurrection through Baptism. Symbolically, Baptism reminds us of death, in that we are lowered into the waters, and they cover us over, just as surely as being swallowed by a grave in the earth. And, then again, symbolically, Baptism reminds us of the resurrection, as we rise out of the waters, unhurt, and purified from every stain.
But, the Sacraments—Baptism among them—are very special symbols—"outward signs, instituted by Christ to give grace"—symbols which actually cause in us the effect that they outwardly symbolize. So by Baptism, "we are buried together with Christ. . . . and we shall live also together with Christ. . . . to the end that we may serve sin no longer."
We join Him in His victory over death—now being able to work out our salvation by conforming our wills to His will—by cooperating with the graces that He gives to us. By being washed in the Blood of the Easter Lamb—in the purifying waters of Baptism—we are washed clean of every stain of sin—made new and wholly pleasing to God, just as Adam and Eve were before the fall.
Likewise, the appearances of bread in the Blessed Sacrament are a symbol of nourishment for us, and of the compassion of Jesus for the multitude. But in reality, these humble scraps of bread and wine hide the Body and Blood—the humanity and the divinity—of Jesus Christ Himself. Much more than physical nourishment, they are the food on which the human soul runs; the provisions given us for our spiritual journey; for our growth in the spiritual life.
And, just as the loaves multiplied in the desert revealed our Lord's compassion—all the more does this Blessed Sacrament remind us of His love for us, as He visits us during each Mass; as He waits for us in all the tabernacles of the world.
And finally, in the separate consecration of bread and wine, we see a sort of "mystical sword"; a symbol of the shedding of the Precious Blood on Mount Calvary. But, more than a symbol, it is a reality—bringing us across time and space to the foot of the Cross—here and now renewing for us that immemorial sacrifice of our salvation.
And, lets not forget that all of the other Sacraments derive their power from this saving event: The Sacrament of Penance, by which sick souls are restored to health. Confirmation, by which we are made soldiers of Christ. The Unction of the Sick, to make us whole in this life and to prepare us for the next. Holy Matrimony, by which civilization and society are perpetuated in cooperation with God. The Priesthood, in which Christ works through His mortal servants. These too have a place in our "reminder of Easter."
Remember what it says on the clock—"time flies." This Sunday ought to be the occasion for our looking back over the past quarter of the year, and asking ourselves what progress we have made in the spiritual life; and asking ourselves where we are going in the next quarter—and the next. Asking ourselves what use we have made of God's precious sacramental gifts.
The spiritual life is something like the physical life—we can live it for better or for worse, but we can't stay still—we can't be perpetually 18, or 21, or 39, or whatever. In the spiritual life, if we are not going forward, we are going backward—there is no staying in place.
We need to have our end always before our eyes—always to know that we "are dead indeed to sin, but alive unto God, in Christ Jesus our Lord. For "time flies" quickly—and someday, for us at least, will be no more.
But, thank God that today it is not too late!