January 21, 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Kairos Time: a Sunday Scriptures blog

We 21st century people are focused on chronological time. We have atomic clocks, AI-assisted instruments that can make nanosecond interventions, calendars on our cell phones. But sometimes we also think about time in a different way, as when we think about an era, a season, a lifetime or something that happened to us when “time seemed to stop.” In Christian Scripture, originally written in Greek, there is something called Kairos time. Kairos time is an appointed time when God is acting to accomplish something, something of his plan, not ours. In today’s Gospel, Jesus recognizes that moment. John the Baptist has been arrested, and so Jesus begins to preach: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” In our Hebrew Scripture reading, Jonah the prophet refused to recognize the Kairos moment when God wanted to reach out to the people of Nineveh. So he had to be delivered to them in the belly of a whale, the part of the story we don’t hear today. Cast on the shore by his fish transport, he is persuaded to preach repentance to the city, which “turned from (repented of) their evil way,” and so was saved. Kairos time, I think, also operates in us. There are spiritual moments we all have when we “stop in our tracks,” so to speak, and become aware about what God is doing in our lives, about how God’s promises to be our light and truth and food are being fulfilled right now, and about what we need to do in response. Kairos time can also be applied to groups — families, nations, Churches. It is the kind of time when, through patient speaking and listening to God, we are prompted to make a change, take a major decision, do something different. Jesus began to speak when the moment was right. There are other places in his story when we hear the phrase, “the hour was right.” Is our preoccupation with chronological time preventing us from hearing that the hour is right for a change in us, our Church, our country?

— Blog entry by Sister Mary Garascia

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