Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Kαιρός - Kairós

Βλέπετε οὖν ἀκριβῶς πῶς περιπατεῖτε, μὴ ὡς ἄσοφοι ἀλλ’ ὡς σοφοί,
έξαγοραζόμενοι τὸν καιρόν, ὅτι αἱ ἡμέραι πονηραί εἰσιν.

έξαγοραζόμενοι > exagorazómeni > buying up
τὸν καιρόν > ton kairón > kairós time

Jesus once told a parable.
When an owner came seeking fruit and found none, he said to the gardener, “Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?” The gardener replied, “Let it alone, sir, this year also, till I dig about it and fertilize it. Perhaps it will bear fruit next year.”

Give it more time!
Give it another year!

God keeps giving us another year, and each year that passes brings us closer to that day when we shall appear before Him face to face. Each year brings us closer to the Kingdom, closer to eternity when the patient gardener, the Righteous Judge and Lord of the Universe, will come looking for fruit on our tree. But then there will not be another chance. It will be too late. The end will have come. There will not be another year, another opportunity in which to repent and bear fruit for God. Now is the opportune kairós, or time, for repentance and salvation.

We read in St. Paul's letter to the Ephesians, “Look carefully how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16). The key word in this statement by St. Paul is the word “time”. New Testament writers use two Greek words for “time”: chrónos and kairós.

Chrónos time is chronological time, calendar time, time that moves along moment by moment, day by day, year by year. Most people prepare for death by living the chrónos time. They simply try to stay alive as long as possible, adding as many days as they can by proper dieting, staying in shape, taking vitamins, and letting their doctors stretch out their lives with wonder drugs, and intravenous feedings when they get old and sick. Then they die, and that's all there is to it. Death comes when their chrónos, their chronological calendar time, runs out. All they have to show for living is an accumulation of calendar years. “My, he lived to be 100, isn't that wonderful?” we say. It is not wonderful. Not if all one has to show for all those years is calendar time.

But Kairós time is another kind of time, a special kind of time; time which is crucial; time which determines history; time which must be seized by any person who wants life and death to make a difference for time and eternity. Jesus lived a life of kairós time. He never ignored a single moment or opportunity for doing good, for serving, for healing. He used time to the fullest: teaching, comforting, loving, preaching. Even when He was alone, He spent His time in prayer, communicating with God as to how best to use the time that was left in His life.

Thus, when the time came for Jesus to die, He was ready. Even though He was only 33 years old, each precious moment of His life on earth had been used as God had intended for Him to use it. He had used His time as kairós time, time with a purpose, time for serving God and man, time for preparing for eternity.

The Lord gave us chrónos time, calendar time, that we may turn it into kairós time, salvation time, time filled with opportunities for us to respond to God's gracious invitation to the Kingdom; time for bearing in our lives the fruit of faith, hope and love.

The primary meaning of kairós in the New Testament is: the right time, the ripe time, the proper time, the opportune time for salvation. It is in this sense that St. Paul uses the word kairós in 2 Corinthians 6:2: “Behold, now is the acceptable time [ἰδοὺ νῦν καιρὸς εὐπρόσδεκτος]; behold, now is the day of salvation.”

— Fr Anthony Coniaris, Basic Orthodoxy, pp. 1-3

The passage quoted above from one of Fr Coniaris' many books is an example of the kind of Orthodoxy that I encountered when I first joined myself and my family to the Church. It was a living faith lacking worldly credentials and hiding itself from the pomp and glory of this world. Surely it was just as resplendant with its ancient beauty then as always, but there was an unearthly Source to that beauty, it was a beauty not-made-with-hands.

There are many kinds of Orthodoxy in the world today; this is nothing new. There have always been people vying for recognition, promoting the Church, or even the Gospel itself, out of ambition and self-interest.

The true Orthodoxy, my friends and brethren, is not to be found there, but do not let that kind of Orthodoxy prevent you from entering the Holy of Holies, following behind Jesus, our great and everlasting High Priest. That is where true Orthodoxy is to be found.

True Orthodoxy is as the bible teaches; it is only this.

What you have come to is nothing known to the senses: it is not a blazing fire, or a gloom turning to total darkness, or a storm; or trumpeting thunder or the great voice speaking which made everyone that heard it beg that no more should be said to them. They were appalled at the order that was given: If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned. The whole scene was so terrible that Moses said: I am afraid, and was trembling with fright.

But what you have come to is Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem where the millions of angels have gathered for the festival, with the whole Church in which everyone is a ‘first-born son’ and citizen of heaven. You have come to God Himself, the supreme Judge, and been placed with the spirits of the saints who have been made perfect; and to Jesus, the Mediator who brings a New Covenant and a Blood for purification which pleads more insistently than Abel's.

Make sure that you never refuse to listen when He speaks.

Hebrews 12:18-25a Jerusalem Bible

True Orthodoxy is true Life. It is always an invitation.
It's that place where you not only are, but always feel, welcome.
There's no place like home.

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