"Remember, I am with you always to the end of the age" (Mt 28:20)

Kairos and Chronos

would like to focus on three realities that the gospel of Luke considers as the precursors to the so-called end times. Just a word about realities. The basic approach to contemplating the end times is not through ideas but by opening our senses to the present realities. Pope Francis says realities are always bigger than ideas. In our gospel readings these past days, Jesus talks about the realties in his own time through the evangelist Luke who was writing the Gospel after the devastation of Jerusalem by the Roman armies in 70 AD.

The way Luke graphically paints the Gospel reality hints at his flesh and blood experience of the devastation, e.g., massive blocks of stone thrown down from the walls, which were still lying there as they fell, scattered at the base of the Temple. When it comes to the end times Jesus does not mince his words. We might think, in terms of fary-tale like ideas and fantasies, that after the death and resurrection of Jesus there is already peace and a happy ending. But on the contrary there are wars, rebellions or mutinies and divisions. Jesus is consistent with his words, “I come not for peace but for division.”

Second consideration is the reality of the Kingdom of God like a realm entered at the present and in the future. This is also called the already-but-not-yet reality. Perhaps we can better understand this reality if we look at how the ancient Greeks viewed it. The Greeks have two different words for the concept of time. The first word is Χρόνος, "Kʰrónos." You probably recognize this one as the root for the English words “chronology," “synchrony” and "crony" (a friend in time). It refers to quantitative, measured and endless ticking of time. This is not the concept of time that is used in the gospel today. It uses another word for time which is καιρός “kairos,” (Greek for “right time,” “season” or “opportunity”). These two concepts of time are different. In Ignatian spirituality, we often say “Non multa sed multum.” Not many but much. Not quantity but depth. “Kairos” is what many philosophers, mystics and spiritual writers refer to as “deep time.” If chronos is endless ticking of time, kairos is when all of a sudden time stops. Meeting the love of your life, time stops there. Looking at the sunrise or sunset, time stops there too. It can be measured in breaths that were taken away from you after encountering something sublime and beautiful. When was the last time you had a kairos moment? An Oh-my-God moment? Since God is present always, each moment could be a kairos moment. When you find yourself in kairos, chronos stops and you feel your life on a stand still. This experience is possible in our lifetime, in the here and now. You know that experience, don’t you? A grace-filled state that is activated, and it cannot be measured, it can only be experienced, encountered. Hence it is deeply personal. Your kairos maybe is different from mine but, nonetheless, rich. I would like to quote the following lines said by the character Finch Weinberg, played by Tom Hanks, in the 2021 movie entitled “Finch.” Finch is describing the difference between measuring how long the Golden Gate Bridge is and how deep one can experience its rusting cables. He says, “You see, you can already tell me how many rivets are in the Golden Gate Bridge. And how many miles of cables were used and how high it is. But it’s not until you actually stand on it and see the beauty, and listen to the suspension cables singing in the wind… That’s experience. That’s human experience.” At this stage of our earthly pilgrim journey hunger and thirst for more of this with the Lord.

For our third consideration is the how? How can we seize these beautiful realities that time offers? What should be my attitude? First, we must acknowledge that it is a gift, it is a grace. We must beg God for him to make every morning, every evening, every minute stop. Ignatian examen is an opportune time to stop in order to relish, savor and notice the gifts of time. Time gives healing, it gives transformation, it gives unlimited chances, it moves slow enough for us to be filled by each moment. Every minute is an invitation to experience breath-taking moments, “pressed down, shaken together, brimming over” (Lk 6:38). When we start to look at time this way, who would not want to befriend time, who would not want to seize time. The last line of our gospels specifically tells us how. Yesterday, we heard it said, “By your perseverance you will secure your lives.” And in today’s gospel, Jesus says “when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.” Perseverance is standing erect with heads raised to heaven. It goes with the assurance from Jesus’s words, “Remember I am with you until the end of the age” (Mt 28:20). In simple terms, he is in time, all of it. All we need is to remember with perseverance and constancy. When we do that, Jesus's time comes. When in turmoil, and we remember him, Jesus comes. When we are testifying before the court, Jesus comes to the point of even giving us the words in our mouths to speak. When faced with resistances, just remember him and he comes. There are those who deceive us saying “The time (Kairos) has come” (Lk 21:8). We must be discerning enough. But know that even when we least expect the Lord to come, he comes. Even amidst the shadows, he enters, he comes. And that is the event of persevering in his words. It is not something in the future but a future that has come already in our midst.

In fact it is not an “it” but it is a person. It is more than just a reality or a realm it is simply Jesus in our midst. The true "I AM" (Lk 21:8). And he says this with surety, not with conditions of whether we are worthy or not, whether we have been successful or not. None of that. The one and only condition that Jesus gives which is the assurance of receiving the fullness of life is the condition of perseverance and faithfulness until the end. Amen. Fr JM Manzano SJ