Dec. 3: Hiking into time

First Sunday of Advent, Dec. 3


Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come (Mk 13:33)

On a recent trip to the Grand Canyon, my husband and I walked the South Rim, taking the trail along the canyon’s top. When we reached the Bright Angel trailhead, he opted to stay on level ground, but I left the path and hiked for a while down into the canyon’s beauty.  Instead of moving forward, I went deep.  All too soon, the pressures of time called me back to the top, as they are wont to do, and we finished our forward journey. 

On this first day of Advent—a panic-inducing short three weeks this year—Christ invites us to step off our life’s linear trail, to leave behind the remorseless tick-tock of the Immediate, and to go deep, into the Important. In Mark’s Gospel today, this deep and meaningful time has a Greek name: kairos. Caught up as we may be in the pre-Christmas frenzy, we become prisoners of chronos, responding reflexively to the demands that the inexorable succession of minutes and hours places on us. But in the very act of his coming, Jesus transformed chronos into kairos, disrupting and fulfilling human time. History assumes a redemptive meaning through the birth of this babe, his subsequent life, death and resurrection. 

When God “fell like a daring meteor into time,” as British poet W. H. Auden put it in his poem “Kairos and Logos,” everything changed. Humans that we are, we have no choice but to march through linear time. But as we begin this season of preparation, Jesus calls us to be alert to the true significance of our lives as Christians, moving through human chronos towards a rich, vast and eternal kairos

Prayer: Lord God, free us from the prison of our days so that we may dwell with you in the deep and holy time of kairos. Amen.

For today’s readings, click here.


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