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Doctrines & Morals
 
 
Scripture Corner…

DRAWN INTO THE KAIROS

Basically, the Greeks have two terms for time namely chronos and kairos. Though these two can rightly be translated as time in English, in the real sense of it they are not exactly the same. The distinction is richly philosophical and even portrayed in different ways. Chronos has to do with time as a duration. It can be measured. It may interest you that it is from here that we derive some English words such as chronometer (an instrument for measuring time), chronology (succession of events) and even chronicle (record of events).

In Greek mythology, chronos is depicted as devouring its own child. Hence, we are both products and victims of time. We are born in time and we die in time. Kairos as time means moment, an appointed period and is not usually measured in a quantitative manner. The depiction of kairos in Greek mythology is quite complicated. It is portrayed on tiptoes which suggests that it is always on the move. It has only one lock of hair and bald at the back. This is interpreted as grabbing whatever it encounters and letting go whatever passes by. That is why it is more of an opportunity. Once it is missed it is gone. Hence, a Latin adage says carpe diem - catch the right moment. Kairos is also called the god of luck. Hence in English we say that luck is when opportunity meets preparedness. Both chronos and kairos are used in the Bible and are translated as time or other possible cognates that allow no room for distinction. For example;

"I have given her time (chronos) to repent, but she refuses to repent of her harlotry" (Rev 2:21).

"The time (kairos) is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent and believe in the good news" (Mk 1:15).

In Revelation 2:21, it means duration, a given period of time that lasts and can be measured. In Mark 1:15, it is an appointed time ordained by God himself. For a mere reader of the English Bible, the use of time in both passages makes no difference. It is thus only the original text and a sound theological understanding of the context that will help in illuminating what is meant. The use of hora (hour) in the Gospel of John fits well into the context of kairos. The hour according to John is the hour to glorify God. It is also the hour for the death of Jesus Christ and therefore the hour of our salvation. It is an appointed time. Hora is Johannine Kairos.

Divine Mercy Sunday is thus our own Kairos. It is a Sunday of grace; God´s appointed time to have mercy on us. "In an acceptable time (Kairos) I heard you, and on the day of salvation I helped you. Behold, now is a very acceptable time (Kairos); behold, now is the day of salvation" (2Cor 6:2). The first part of the quotation is from the Septuagint of Isaiah 49:8 which has the context of a fulfilment of a covenantal promise. The second part is thus a parenthetical explanation that the hour of mercy which Isaiah spoke of is re-enacted now. Although the verbs are in the past, it is effectively now. In the same way, our historic now is also that time of mercy when God hears us and comes to our assistance. It is a time we are called upon to experience God´s mercy anew, celebrate it with joy and actively live it out in our world and society.

Inasmuch as we live in a world of time and space, we are living in a chronos world, a world in which its duration can be measured. The passage of this time tells on us. We are born as little helpless and innocent babies. We grew up as toddlers, small children, then puberty and adolescence will set in. We become young adults and then middle age begins to set it in and finally old age. Each of these stages can be read on our physical appearance as well as on metabolic changes within us. Every day we draw closer to our grave.  Awareness of this can cause depression or even frustration. Trying to succeed in life and experiencing setbacks can make one feel frustrated. Trapped in this chronos world, we can also experience a divine inbreak of Kairos. Kairos is the time of God who has neither beginning nor end. And the awareness that after exiting this chronos world, we will be with God is his trans-historical world gladdens the heart. The manifestation of this occurs once in a while in our lives. The birth of Jesus into the world pierced the chronos and created a Kairos. That is also the same with his death and resurrection. Hence within the chronos, there are moments set aside for Kairos. This is called sacred time. To this sacred time is also a sacred space. Thus, although God is everywhere, he chose certain places as a place of special encounter with him. It could be a Church, a shrine or a pilgrimage place. It could even be a mountain. Any moment I profit of these sacred places, I am experiencing Kairos. In this way, we have a confluence of a sacred place and a sacred time. Above all my heart could be a sacred place where I encounter the God of life and each moment I do this, I experience grace and create Kairos. In a moment of Kairos, I detach myself from things of this world. I try to distance myself from my past and allow the future not to worry me. I concentrate on the present and imagine myself on a stage where only God and I are the sole actors. I try to bracket all my struggles, difficulties, setbacks and disappointments and focus on God´s unconditional love for me. I am enveloped in that aura of unconditional acceptance by God.  This fills the soul with joy, peace and serenity.

This eirenical episode can also be created in a faith community.  The presence of the risen Lord among the disciples was a moment of joy. The Scripture tells us that they rejoiced when they saw the Lord. The source of their joy is the risen Lord himself and he too is the true source of our joy even till today. Each moment of our encounter with him becomes an hour of grace. Our Church encounters the risen Lord whenever we gather for worship and fellowship. For this encounter to be a reality we must live out our faith in love so that our Church will be a locus of Kairos. A Church where faith is lived in love and communal living reigns is truly a locus of Kairos. There, we experience the presence and grace of God. May we on this Divine Mercy Sunday build a model community where no one is in need and resources generously shared for the good of all and sundry. Where love reigns, there God dwells among men and there we experience the grace of God.

 


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