Saturday, March 21, 2015

Got the Time?

While I'm doing much better than I was, I am still recovering from the bug that knocked me out of commission last weekend. Good health is returning gradually...much like Spring to the North Country...

   Fifth Sunday of Lent   B 

The calendar tells us
that Friday was the first day of Spring…
…but even a quick look out the window
gives a slightly different impression.
It’ll be a little while yet 
before we’ll be sniffing the flowers
or walking around barefoot in the grass.
I got a little nervous, I must say,
about the way Fr. Justin talked 
about the start of Spring—
even quoting to me more than once
the precise moment of the equinox.
I was worried he might be expecting,
right at the stroke of 6:45pm,
that tulips would sprout and temperatures rise!
Of course, if you’re from the North Country 
you know that the weather in these parts 
pays little attention to what the calendar says.

Ancient Greek—
the original language of the New Testament—
had two different words for time:
chronos and kairos.
Chronos is the time of calendar and clock,
of days and weeks, minutes and hours.
Chronos is measurable time, scheduled time.
Kairos is quite different.
Kairos is the fitting time, the right time.
Kairos is when time opens up.
Kairos isn’t about counting minutes,
but about moments that really count—
a matter of quality, not quantity.

Chronos asks, “What time did the movie end?”
Kairos asks, “Did you have a good time?”

Every second is always the same length,
but some moments are worth a whole lot more than others.

This Sunday, 
we find Jesus talking about kairos:
“The hour has come 
for the Son of Man to be glorified.…
It was for this purpose that I came to this hour.”
He’s not saying,
“The Father’s got my crucifixion scheduled 
for next Friday at noon.
Put it in your datebook!
I hope you all can make it.”
No, Jesus is saying
that his coming Passion, death, and Resurrection
is the pinnacle point of all human history:
“When I am lifted up from the earth,
I will draw all people to myself.”
While the Paschal Mystery, of course,
occurred at a particular time in the past,
it is also very much beyond time’s reach.
This is the fullness of time:
the moment of man’s redemption,
the moment toward which God 
has been guiding every little thing
since the moment of man’s original sin.

So much about the intersection
of Jesus and time in this Sunday’s gospel.
How do faith and time intersect in your life and mine?

We’re busy people these days—
more often than not, too busy, if you ask me.
What I observe again and again
are Catholics trying to squeeze in their spiritual lives
between all their other interests and obligations.
To be a “good Catholic” in many minds
means being able to document the date of your Baptism,
and then fitting a convenient Sunday Mass onto the calendar
as frequently as you’re able.
I see folks struggling to keep some religion in their schedule,
yet failing to lead a fulfilling life of faith.

My friends, when it comes to matters of faith,
we must step out of chronos
of time measured for the sake of worldly business—
and step instead into kairos
into the time appointed for God’s purpose alone.
Our dealings with God
aren’t about keeping the bare terms of a contract;
they’re about forging a very personal relationship—
about falling and growing in love.
And love, as we all know, demands quality time:
love can’t be forced to follow your watch.
God won’t be just another item on your agenda;
God wants to set the agenda—
to be the guiding force that puts all your plans together.
Since Jesus’ saving work on our behalf
is—if you will—“off the clock,”
               then shouldn’t we be sure to seek after him
outside our regular timetable?

As we inch our way into another Spring,
we are quickly coming up on a privileged season
in the Church’s calendar:
Holy Week—a time particularly open to grace.
We are invited more deeply into the timeless mystery of Jesus,
the grain of wheat mercifully sown among us by the Father:
that seed, once dead and buried three days in the earth,
yet now raised, still flourishing, and bearing abundant fruit.
Holy Week has a special ability to pull us out of chronos
out of that swiftly passing time
where death would appear to have the final word—
and insert us into kairos—into that unfolding and enduring time
where the last word is God’s word, and his word is life.

Whether you’re spending it here at home
or will be away travelling elsewhere,
take full advantage of this blessed opportunity.
Yes, put Holy Week on your schedule;
but even more, let it—let Christ—take deep root in your heart.

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