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Posts Tagged ‘kairos’

This past Sunday, the 6th Sunday of Easter (year C), the First Reading is Acts 16: 6-15 (English Standard Version) which I have reproduced below.  This is a crucial narrative in Acts as the report of the first convert  and the first Baptism in Europe.  Please note that in the first paragraph the Lord prevents the apostles from going to certain regions and then He directed them into Macedonia, that is, Europe.  Further, in their travels to Philippi the apostles had a quick trip given the circumstances at the time.  After the lesson, I have commentary.

The Macedonian Call

And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.

The Conversion of Lydia

11 So, setting sail from Troas, we made a direct voyage to Samothrace, and the following day to Neapolis, 12 and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city some days. 13 And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together. 14 One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. 15 And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us.

Yesterday, I met with a retired colleague and friend, Art in his new residence at a assisted living facility.  We went out for lunch.  Art was for years a missionary in the Caribbean. He pointed out that with my new job as hospice chaplain in our area that I would have greater exposure to the community in that role.  This might be good for the mission, he said.  Then he said that the Lord opens opportunities for us and we don’t have to force the door open. This observation is spot-on!  So much so-called missionary work, not only abroad but also here,  is forcing the Lord to open doors by various stratagems, techniques and gimmicks.  Door to door salesmen, when the homeowner (usually a woman) was about to close the door would stick his foot in the door;  and so the expression, “get a foot in the door”.  This must have been frightening. This is not the way of the Lord as the Acts passage makes clear.  He opens the door for His faithful apostles and in the apostolic ministry.  The Lord is Lord of the harvest. We pray to Him for His harvest (Luke 10:2).  We don’t tell the Lord when the time is right.  He and His field does!  

John 4:35Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.

Art was reflecting the reality of the Lord’s time.  In a harvest, the right time is the ripe time and we can do nothing to ripen the harvest but be prayerfully ready to harvest.

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Yesterday, the 1st Sunday in Advent, is the beginning of the Church’s new year.  The Church’s year is not the same as the secular year of January through December.  We only have one word for time, time!  In the New Testament Greek there are two words:  Chronos and Kairos.  Fr. Patrick Reardon in an article on this subject wrote:

“The first Greek term is chronos, meaning time on the move, time as before and after, time as the future passing through the present and so becoming the past. From this Greek word chronos we derive such English terms as chronic, chronicle, and chronology. Thus, we call an illness chronic if it lasts a long time. A chronicle is an account of events through a sequence of time. Chronology is the itemized, studied measurement of time.”

In St. Matthew’s Gospel,  Jesus says, “When the season for fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants to get his fruit.” (21: 34)  The literal Greek for “season for fruit” or harvest is “the kairos of fruit”.  When a fruit tree’s  ripeness happens in time but it can not be predicted as to the chronos, the measurable time. It ripens at the right time.
“Strictly speaking, we don’t measure kairos. We don’t ask someone, for example, “How much Christmas did you have?” We inquire, rather, “what sort of Christmas did you have?” With kairos we employ the category of qualis, not quantum.” (Fr. Reardon)

We have intimations of kairos  in everyday life when “we lose track of time”, especially in an enjoyable activity like taking a walk.  Recently my wife and I went on a trail along the Maury River we had never been on.  When we came to the end of it, it had only taken chonologically less than an hour.  But it seemed more. Kairos.

In The Fellowship of the Ring, when Gandalf comes into the Shire, Frodo joyously welcomes him and chides Gandalf that he is late. Gandalf replied,

“A wizard is never late, Frodo Baggins.  Nor is he early.  He arrives precisely when he means to.”

The Apostle Peter in his second Epistle reading for the 2nd Sunday in Advent teaches in regards to the time of the Lord’s return:

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.  (2 Peter 3: 8)

The Lord will come again precisely when He means to as He did the first time, at the right time, the fulfilled time.  Kairos is God’s time. Chronos is our time. Kairos is God’s time which is eternal life.   Chronos is the date on the tombstone.  Kairos is the promise of Jesus Christ.  Advent, coming near: a blessed New Year living the Kairos Today, His Time of Salvation.

Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. 2For he says,

    “In a favorable time  (kairos) I listened to you,
   and in a day of salvation I have helped you.”

   Behold, now is the favorable time (kairos); behold, now is the day of salvation. (1 Corinthians 6)

(Read the whole article Chronos and Kairos by Fr. Patrick Reardon:  it’s good!)

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