In the historic city of Prague, on one of the highest points in a section called Letna, stands a large mechanical device. I've gone to gaze at it each time I've traveled to the Czech Republic. It's located almost directly opposite the famous ancient Hradcany Castle across the Vltava River. An imposing, massive iron metronome mounted on a high stone wall, it perpetually swings upward and downward.
It was part of an exhibition elsewhere in Prague in years past, but was moved to this location to replace a huge statute of Stalin and workers. That heavy statue was joyfully hacked to pieces and hauled away in celebration of the Velvet Revolution in 1989 marking the Czech people’s freedom at last from the occupying Communist regime.
This impressive monster of a metronome serves no practical purpose. Yes, it nods at measured intervals but it doesn’t tell the time. It just plods along day after day, month after month, year after year nodding but signifying nothing. The metronome is not like the famous astronomical clock in the Square at Stara Mesta in the middle of old town Prague. That truthful device accurately tells the world not only the precise current time anywhere in the world but how all the heavenly constellations were aligned at any given point in history and how they will be aligned in ages to come. An amazing scientific instrument, it has spanned the centuries and is held in awe by all!
In contrast, it is useless to ask the monstrous metronome anything. It only nods without comment. It doesn’t tell us anything about either history or what is to come.
Am I nothing but a nodding metronome marking the passing of time in the late years of my life? Plodding along letting day after day slip by hardly noticed? Am I nodding in agreement to the downward pull of the secular culture around me? Do I excuse myself because I am “over the hill,” so to speak, and no longer responsible before God to share the spiritual Treasure I have found in Jesus Christ with the people wherever God has planted me? God calls me to be a faithful steward and serve my generation even if it is the generation that is soon to pass off the earthly scene. While there is breath and life there is still time. My witness is all the more urgent.
None of us knows how near we are to God’s Grand Finale of history, the return of Christ which we proclaim at every Mass. Nor do we know how close we are to our final breath. I don't want to nod drowsily excusing myself because of advanced age or lack of a public pulpit. I'm surrounded by my chronological peers with eternal souls who need to be reminded of the lateness of the hour before it is too late.