By Héritier Mesa –
One among the many contributions of Albert Einstein in modern theoretical physics is the understanding of Time and Space. In fact, in his theory of “Relativity,” he brilliantly supplanted the classical understanding of Time and Space as absolute and linear entities. Indeed, the Newtonian classical mechanic understood Time and Space as independent and absolute physical platforms. Time was then an eternal category that comprises every single being, history, events, and even nature in itself. For Einstein, both Time and Space are relative categories. In simple terms: There is not really such an absolute Time or Space in the universe. By expanding, the universe creates its own time and space. Consequently, the end of the cosmic time would be equivalent to the end of the cosmic expansion. Surely, the world creates its own space and time, and so do we.
While the theory of Time has always been fascinating for many of us, very few however are able to make the most of the time we do have in life. As we grow old, one of the very things that strike us is the brevity of life itself. We often have the feeling that our time on earth is not enough. Life seems too short. We might still need more years to live and get our things together, and yet we are always running out of time. Honoré de Balzac, the French Novelist, put it dramatically under this term: “How can I die when I do not yet live?”
Certainly, there is no doubt regarding unrivaled importance of our time here on earth. Short or limited— as it might appear to some— yet, life is precious and unique. However, today’s world and its pseudo “time value” lead us to overlook the richness and beauty of the time and life we have. We are said to be running after a time that is “money,” and forget to have a life in the process. A few weeks ago, while attending a mass in the Manila Cathedral, I was distracted by a group of tourists. They were probably attracted by the renovation of the metropolitan Cathedral and wanted to have a close look at the beautiful paintings. A distinctive group among them caught particularly my attention. In their early-twenties, these young tourists were more concerned about the new “selfies” to be taken in the “New Cathedral” whereas their older counterparts were trying to look closely to statutes of Saints, to touch some materials or just discuss artistry with their friends.
Perhaps this portrays some aspects of the crisis faced by our modern and sophisticated society. Singularly though, we spend our time complaining about “the time” we do not have or should have instead of savoring and making the most of the time we do have. While visiting a foreign place or country for instance, we spend more time complaining about how bad is this or that aspect of the public administration. We keep whining about what we are being missing from our “comfortable Zone” back home instead of taking time to actually admire and meet a different form of beauty right in our sight. We go to the beach, and then we spend half of the time updating our Facebook status with new selfies and comments about the place instead of taking more time to enjoy a remarkable sunset or the freshness of the water or just the feeling of the Sun in our skin. At the end of the day, it all comes down to this: We spend a considerable time of our life worrying about our social status or—as one would say today—our social-media- life instead of taking time in finding and enjoying the beauty in our life.The seemingly brevity of our life should be reminding us that life is a gift. An incredible gift from God indeed. This should help us grow in awareness of our existence, awareness of its beauty and meaningfulness. We then learn to fully live every time, every present moment and to make the most of it. We thus learn to enjoy the freshness of the air in our hair, the coolness of water in our bare feet, the beauty of an exotic place or the smile of a stranger.
For us Christians, as we are preparing ourselves in this Lent season, for the Paschal Mystery of Christ, we are reminded of the importance of time in our salvation history. By pointing out to an imminent glorious time of salvation in an eschatological future, the Lent season is telling us also to be aware of the present moment. As we prepare to commemorate the redemption of the entire humanity that exceeds the Albert Einstein’s category of time, we should keep in mind that the very salvation is inscribed within history and therefore is to be found in our time and space, here in our life. In fact, in the Gospel of Luke read: “today, salvation has come to this house” (Luke 19:9) and further, “today, you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43)
God will deliver his people and save them in the future, and yet he is already saving them today. The glory of God will surely come, and yet it is already here. Sometimes, we just need to have the eyes of faith to be able to see and experience the grace of God in time. I personally have always had hard time trying to figure out a human salvation that is disconnected with the present reality, the present life. It is from and in our daily existence, experiences, joys, pains, and hopes that God is saving us. Hence, the ultimate eschatological salvation starts here and now.
May these forty days of accompanying Christ in the memory of the human redemption help us to see how God is saving us every day. May we grow in awareness and experience the many miracles God is doing in our life and around us: how meaningfully, he is bringing pieces back together and creating beauty out of the Chaos of our existence. May the present time be for us an opportunity to experience eternity in temporality.