“Write down the vision clearly upon the tablets, so that one
can read it readily. For the vision still has its time, presses on to
fulfillment and will not disappoint; if it delays, wait for it, it will
surely come, it will not be late.” So says God to the prophet Habakkuk
in one of the readings this week. It makes me think about the importance
Jesus certainly knew the importance of timing. After
the Transfiguration, which we celebrate on Monday, He charged the
disciples “not to relate what they had seen to anyone, except when the
Son of Man had risen from the dead.” Peter, James and John had just seen
something amazing. Naturally, they would want to tell everyone; but not
everyone was ready to hear about it. Jesus taught them to wait until
the timing was right.
Timing is an important element in the whole
sweep of salvation history. This is one of the great things about “The
Great Adventure Bible Study” by Jeff Cavins: it teaches people to see
how God’s plan unfolds — how all the pieces fit together in one
Why should time matter?
One reason is the
extension of a principle provided by St. Thomas Aquinas. He pointed out
that no one finite creature could fully reflect God’s infinite goodness.
So God made many creatures, that they might reflect His goodness in
different ways. Likewise, no single time frame can fully express God’s
goodness. So God manifests His goodness across multiple time frames in
order to show us different aspects of His goodness. When we see all
those times together, and understand their sequence, we get a better
picture of God.
Another reason is an extension of the principle of
why we have sacraments. We learn the truth through our senses. God made
us that way. So, out of respect for our nature, He taught us spiritual
truths through physical realities, and He continues to do so through the
sacraments. The same truth applies to time. It takes time for us to
understand. So, like a master teacher, God works with us step by step.
Salvation history is God’s curriculum — it gives us the knowledge and
skills we need. But it gives them to us one step at a time, as we’re
able to handle them.
Think of it like music. When we know and love
a piece of music we don’t only appreciate the individual notes. We know
and love their movement, how they unfold over time and work together.
Salvation history and our own spiritual development work the same way.
Thursday, we hear Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Christ.
Afterward, Jesus “strictly ordered His disciples to tell no one that He
was the Christ” — not because it wasn’t true, but because the timing
wasn’t right. True words, spoken at the wrong time, can have a
destructive effect. Jesus knew that. We need to think about that.
in salvation history — from its grand sweep down to its little details –
suggests that timing matters to God. It’s worth thinking about our own
words, deeds and lives in that light.