Readings for Today
Isn’t time a funny thing? When we are very little, and we hear someone say, “I will be with you in a little while,” we usually can wait no more than a few seconds. As we grow older, our concept of time changes. It seems to move faster and faster. We arrive at a certain time in our lives, say at 50, and part of us, maybe even all of us wonders how it arrived so quickly. And yet when we were children, we may have felt like we would never get to be able to grow up.
Even in our adult lives, there are different types of waiting. If we are waiting for a loved one to visit, the wait seems long. If we are waiting for the doctor to give us the result of tests, the wait can be agonizing. As we have come to the place where we can deliver things faster and faster, it still seems to take too long for something we want very much to arrive.
When that loved one does arrive, it seems like time speeds up, and before we know it the visit is over. Parents know that their children grow up all too fast, and grandparents feel the same way about their grandchildren. There just seems to be no making sense of time. Even God speaks of time in a way that suggests there are differences in understanding it. “A thousand years is like a day” we read, and Jesus says , “I am coming soon”, and some two thousand years later we wait. We wait for our prayers to be answered. Sometimes this seems like it will never happen.
And so what do we make of the phrase, “a very little while.” The actions that follow hardly seem like things that will happen in a little while. Consider the blind men in the gospel. How long had they waited for someone like Jesus to come along in their lives? And after all this waiting, it would be understandable that they no longer could believe that God would do this, this great restoration of sight so they could perceive clearly again. They could witness the vivid world around them.
These different notions of time caused the Greeks to develop two words for time. One is like what I describe. Χρονος, (chronos) from which we derive our word chronology. This is the time measured by watches and calendars. Then there is Καιρος (kairos) which is God’s time. It is the time when we experience the person and presence of God. It is when all is ready. It is the time for fulfillment. It is that time that is beyond measuring. It is in this sense that something happens in “a very little while.” It is this time that we focus on during this season of Advent. It is this time that made the blind men ready for Jesus to do something marvelous.