Time is part of our life. We count the days, months, years and centuries. We run after time. We have time or no time. Sometimes we wish for more time to sleep, to work or to pray. We wish that the day had 48 hours. We want to live many years or sometimes we are tired of living because life is hard. We get lost if we do not have a watch around our wrist. It seems that time is haunting us.
The ancient Greeks had two words for time, chronos and kairos. Chronos refers to clock time, that can be measured in days, hours, minutes and seconds. Kairos refers to a special time, a favourable or opportune time, “the perfect moment.” While the first term refers to quantity-time, the second refers to quality-time.
When Jesus starts his ministry in Galilee, he refers to quality-time: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” (Mk 1:15). Jesus encourages everyone to grasp the moment of salvation, the opportune time. He invites us to journey with him towards a life rooted in the Gospel, aware of his kingdom in our midst.
As we start a New Year, we make plans for chronological time. God willing, we may fulfil the planning of the year, day after day, month after month. In contrast, kairos-time cannot be planned. It comes and goes. It may come through pain and failure or through joy and fulfilment; sometimes as thunder or lightning, other times in the evening breeze or in the colourful rainbow after the storm. The challenge is to be alert and grasp the fleeting moment, the grace filled time that can change our lives. Chronos and kairos are always there. The challenge is to transform ordinary time (chronos) into extraordinary time (kairos), which fills our heart with joy and widens the horizons of our lives.
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die;..” (Ecclesiastes 3:1ff)