Two years ago I wrote
a reflection for precisely this liturgical day and at that time I focused
my comments on the gospel reading, a very important passage indeed. Today,
in order to avoid repetition, I will comment on the first reading from Qohelet:
“There is an appointed time for everything and a time for every thing under
the heavens.” Let me start by saying that I am not quite happy with the North
American Bible’s translation “appointed time,” which may be taken in a deterministic
sense of a pre-decided divine blueprint for each moment of our lives. Other
translations read “season” or “right moment” and that speaks rather of an
optimal window, something I am more at peace with.
One of the traits of our prevailing culture is the “instant gratification
syndrome”: instant coffee, microwave cooking, fast food, even digital photos.
We cannot wait and, more importantly, we cannot wait for the right moment.
As I review my own experience, I have more than once regretted not having
waited for a better moment to take action. Rarely have I regretted waiting
for the right moment to act, except maybe in trivial things like a discount
sale of some minor item. It is a gift knowing when to act and when to wait
and truly a sign of wisdom and grace. In John’s gospel Jesus at times abstained
from acting because “his hour had not yet arrived” and the moment was not
In theological/spiritual parlance “kairos” conveys in a faith context the
idea of a graced moment, something I want to understand as an optimal moment,
not as the only moment for God’s grace to be active in our lives. We are
perhaps more accustomed to considering all space as God’s space, the space
of a God who cannot be limited to any particular circumscribed space and
who will be worshiped “neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.” [Jn. 4:21]
Even if we are less accustomed to looking at it this way, all times too are
God’s times. But, just as there are “graced spaces” that are more conducive
to our being aware of God’s presence, so also there are “graced moments”
that, without being exclusive, are more conducive to our being aware of God’s
action in our lives. Any such moment is truly “kairos” and recognizing it
is a gift, a grace we have to desire and pray for. When we do desire something,
we become more alert to favorable opportunities to attain it and, if faith
is operative in our lives, we pray for it.