Time Up!

By Fr Pat Amobi Chukwuma

Wonders shall never end. The reminiscent of an incidence that took place about twenty-five years ago remains indelible in my medulla oblongata. It was ridiculous but serious. I was celebrating evening Holy Mass that began at 6.00p.m. It was a season when darkness descends earlier than usual. On that fateful day, it was already dark by 6.30p.m. I was at the pulpit preaching the Word of God with heavenly inspiration. Suddenly, a notorious rough boy stood up from behind the church with a red card raised before me.

He shouted at the top of his voice, “Father, time up!!!” This costly drama brought about high commotion and murmurings among the congregation for almost seven minutes. In fact, the devil came to church  that evening disguised in human flesh. After a brief pause, I lost my temper. I scolded the stupid boy for interrupting a Divine Holy Sacrifice. I also asked him why he did not attend Mass in the morning hours if he had phobia for darkness. Alternatively, he would have quietly left the church on his own, instead of causing liturgical disturbance.

However, I did not lay any curse on him; rather I asked God to have mercy on him. After this disciplinary admonition, my temper cooled down. Then I continued the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy, which lasted for one and a quarter hour.

Two weeks after the liturgical interruption, the notorious boy died suddenly in a mysterious circumstance. Tongues started wagging. Some said that the anger of God struck him dead. Others maintained that he brought sudden death upon himself by the unholy act in the temple of God. He turned the church into a football field by issuance of red card to the Priest of God performing his ministerial role of glorification of God and the sanctification of the people of God, including himself.

By my investigation I learned that the deceased boy was a miscreant and a local referee. Indeed, I pitied him and prayed God to forgive him over there. Perhaps, he came to church on that fateful day to announce his imminent departure from this world. Wherever he is now, he may probably be appointed a time keeper there. It was also a lesson for all and sundry that our stay here on earth is temporal. One day, time will be up for you and for me. How prepared are we?

Time waits for nobody. The English people express, “How time flies!” In Latin it is stated, “Tempus fugit.” The Germans say, “Die Zeit fliegt.” Due to the high velocity of time, the Igbo people say, “Oge abughi nwanne mmadu.” That means that time is no one’s sibling. In other words, time waits for no one. Better three hours too soon than a minute too late.

Time is an expensive commodity. Thus, time is money. Punctuality is the soul of business. Time lost can never be regained. Time is the most valuable thing a man can spend. In an examination hall, time is not something to toy with. If you do not time yourself, then be ready for high blood pressure. Once the examiner shouts, “Time up!” it means the examination is over. If you write again, be ready for any regrettable sanctions.

Let us now hearken to the voice of the Holy Writ: “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace” (Ecclesiastes 3:1 – 8). What is your time saying now? Is it time up? A stitch in time saves nine. There can never be a time to go to Hell and a time to go to Heaven. It is either or.

A day comes and goes. The sun rises and sets. The week begins on Sunday and ends sharply on Saturday. As we wish each other happy new month, before you know it, the month ends. Another month begins. We usher in the New Year on the first day of January.

We are filled with the euphoria of survival. Daily, weekly and monthly activities commence as usual. Once we troupe into the ember months we begin to look towards the end of the year. Once it is Christmas day, we expect the New Year in a week’s time. How wonderful is the God of time! Indeed, God’s time is the best. If you time yourself accurately and work actively with time, then success shall be yours. The philosophy of “Ogbu oge nwere plan” does not hold water. Do not waste your time. Time wasted can never be regained. If you waste time, then time will waste you. Therefore we must avoid ‘had I known.’

The Church’s liturgical year begins with the season of Advent when we expect the coming of the Saviour Jesus Christ. This expected coming is twofold: the Incarnation of the Word (Christmas) and the Parousia (second coming of Christ). We commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ as the Word made flesh, on 25 December annually. The Christmas Season starts from the Nativity of Christ and ends with His Baptism.

A baptized person, no matter how young, is an adult in the mirror of God. Each liturgical year terminates with the solemn celebration of the Kingship of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. It comes up this year on Sunday 26 November 2023.

He is the King of kings, and the Lord of Lords. In the name of Jesus Christ, every knee shall bow. Have you bowed? On Sunday being 3rd December, we shall usher in the New Church’s Year: the first Sunday of Advent. Come Lord Jesus! Are we ready to welcome Him? If you do not bow down and welcome him in your life time, then your time shall be up. Beware of “Time up!”

The Lunar Calendar has twelve months duration, from January to December. This particular year 2023 is about to end. At the end of each year, we take stock of our lives and our businesses. We count our blessings and losses. We make sober reflection because the wise Socrates says, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” This introspection should be done on daily basis because time waits for no one.

Procrastination is very dangerous. Many people who were alive sometime this year have transited to the world beyond. We who are still alive today are not sure of tomorrow. Our stay here on earth is timed. Thus, if we are not conscious of time we shall be taken unawares. Every second, minute or hour that passes, is gone forever.

As the year 2023 draws to an end, we express our gratitude to God for living up to this time. We are not better than the dead. Each day we sleep and wake up should not be taken for granted. God gives us a second chance each day to make amends of our wrong doings. Let us use this ample opportunity to reconcile with God and with one another before the time is up. At this point, I drop down my pen because time is up. You will hear from me next week, if the Lord does not come before then. Time up!