A Theology of Time, with Raymond “Red” Reddington

This week's reflection is written by
V. Rev. Michael S. Murray, OSFS


James Spader plays Raymond “Red” Reddington in NBC’s hit series The Blacklist. As task force director Harold Cooper once quipped to his team, Reddington is the man “we love to hate, and hate to love”.

As nefarious as this criminal mastermind might be, “Red” does possess his share of insightful bon mots. This is one of my favorites:

“If you were a betting man, you would
understand that now trumps later every time.”

Could Raymond Reddington’s greatest secret be that he is an undercover Salesian?

St. Francis de Sales wrote:

Keep your eyes fixed on that blissful day of eternity towards which the course of years bears us on. And these, as they pass, themselves pass us stage by stage until we reach the end of the road. But meanwhile, in these passing moments there lies enclosed as in a tiny kernel the seed of all eternity. And in our humble little works of devotion there lies hidden the prize of everlasting glory” (Stopp, Selected Letters, p. 236)

We’ve all done it: we put off until tomorrow what we could have done today; we postpone until later what we could have done now. Truth be told, much of the regret that we experience in life is directly related to our delaying, putting off or neglecting all together the countless opportunities afforded to us in each and every present moment to perform ordinary acts of goodness with great intention and attention. In that respect, Salesian spirituality can serve as a strong remedy for our tendency – and temptation – to procrastinate.

When it comes to the spiritual life, should we be concerned about reaching “the end of the road”? Absolutely! But there is no better way to reach that goal than by being fully present to each and every step that we take during the course of our earthly journey. Francis de Sales observed:

When I think how I have used God’s time, I fear that he may not want to give me his eternity, since he only wants to bestow his eternity on those who make good use of his time now…” (Stopp, Selected Letters, p. 172)

With all due respect to both Francis de Sales and Raymond Reddington, perhaps it is St. Paul who says it best in his second letter to the Corinthians (6:2):

“Behold, now is the acceptable time;
behold, now is the day of salvation.”

Today – just today – pay attention to the here and know. Be on the watch for opportunities to do little acts of great love in each and every present moment. Don’t worry about later; later will get here soon enough. Remember that “now trumps later every time.”