THE TIME HAS COME
September already! How the time has flown! It is strange how, as we grow older, time seems to speed up. The days, the months, the years fly by, leaving us perhaps with feelings of regret that we may not have achieved all that we wanted to achieve and that perhaps we have not used our time as profitably as we could. Paul told the Ephesians: “Look carefully how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time” (Eph 5: 15-16). May we continue our journey in the footsteps of Jesus, as wise people, seizing those moments, those opportunities that time gives us to do our part in working towards the fulfillment of God’s plan for God’s people. Those moments – kairos moments – are presented to us every day. “The Lord says: In the appointed time, I have listened to you and in a day of salvation I have helped you. Behold now in the appointed time, behold now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2).
The ancient Greeks had two words for time: chronos and kairos. Chronos refers to clock time – time that can be measured in seconds, minutes, hours. Words such as chronological and anachronism have their roots in chronos. Chronos is sequential and quantitative.
Kairos, on the other hand is qualitative. Kairos refers to a special moment, to the right moment, the opportune moment, the perfect moment, the moment when the Holy Spirit is moving and acting and calling us also to act. “It is a charged, significant moment during which the Spirit is prepared to deliver the power of God in order to bring dynamic transformation to a person or situation.” (Kairos Moments: Philip Noordmans. 2017)
In 1986, a group of South African theologians produced a document entitled “The Kairos Document” challenging the Apartheid government in South Africa and calling for change. It began: “The time has come. The moment of truth has arrived. This is the KAIROS, the moment of grace and opportunity, the favourable time in which God issues a challenge to decisive action.” The Document is pervaded with a strong sense that the time was ripe for change and that unless the opportunity was seized, the loss would be immeasurable, not only for South Africa but for the whole Church. The fate of South Africa balanced on a knife’s edge, and action was needed to change the path of history. And as we know change did come. Apartheid was dismantled and democracy was born.
But Kairos need not be as dramatic as that. It can be a small moment in the life of an individual or a group – a moment that leads to a shift in mentality or a change of direction that brings new life and energy. We all have kairos moments in our own lives.
There are numerous Kairos times in the New Testament when God erupted into our world in new and powerful ways. The most obvious one is of course, the birth of Jesus: “And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born” (Luke 2:6). Later when Jesus inaugurated his ministry, he proclaimed: “The time has come; the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15). Jesus was alerting people to the Spirit’s presence in a new and powerful way and the Spirit’s call to action for change.
We, in the Holy Family have had and still have our Kairos moments. Was not our last General Chapter such a moment, when we committed ourselves to listen deeply to the reality of our world; to allow that reality to speak to us and so let ourselves be challenged to live in a “state of exodus” in solidarity with all those who are obliged to be “on the move” ? And could this time of preparation for the celebration of 200 years of service to the world in the Holy Family be a kairos moment?
The challenge for us is to stay alert so as to be tuned in to those moments when the Spirit is hovering near, urging us to speak and act in obedience and faith to God’s invitation to “act justly, love tenderly and walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8).