Thursday, 9 May 2019

ST. JOHN 8:19


So they said to Him, “Where is Your father?” Jesus answered, “You know neither Me nor My Father. If you knew Me, you would know My Father also.” [v.19]

Questions such as asking about Jesus’ father are not posed by the Pharisees as a sincere seeking of faith, nor to discern if Jesus is indeed the Messiah and then become His disciples. This is a type of seeking yet another way to reject Him. Thus, Jesus calls them on it by asserting their wilful ignorance, even though they frequently claim to be well versed in the prophecies about the Messiah. Also, Jesus is asserting anew the truth that in the reality of the Holy Trinity He and the Father are indeed one, therefore, to know the Father is to know Jesus, to know Jesus is to know the Father.

He spoke these words while teaching in the treasury in the temple area. But no one arrested Him, because His hour had not yet come. [v.20]

It may be difficult to imagine Jesus in the treasury of the temple, given St. John has already told us [2:13ff] of Jesus’ attitude towards the money changes. However, the treasury was different in the sense that besides being the place where gifts were brought for the upkeep of the temple, donations to the poor, it was also that area of the temple where the women came to worship.

It was from the monies in the treasury the leaders would take the thirty pieces of silver to pay Judas to betray Christ [Mt. 26:15].

Once again St. John references the ‘hour’ and the powerlessness of Christ’s enemies until His hour arrives.

Jesus’ first mention of His hour is in John 2:4; Mark 14:35 gives us Jesus’ cry to the Father that the hour might pass, yet Jesus submits to the will of the Father; Matthew 26:45 recounts Jesus immediately after His agony in the Garden telling His apostles that it is the hour. When they are arresting Jesus He defines ‘the hour’ as:  “…..your hour, the time for the power of darkness.” [Lk.22:53].

To truly enter into the fullness of the mystery of the hour Jesus speaks of it is important to humbly accept the fact we human beings, indeed we the baptized, have a very poor appreciation of the gift of time, its sacred importance, because we have for millennia tried, and still try, to parse and control time.

Time is salvation history, most importantly for we the baptized called to live in the rhythm and depths of the liturgy and within the liturgical year, Kairos, which means every moment, is the opportune moment of grace.

Only if we live in the deep reality of Kairos, within Chronos, that is chronological time as the world determines it, will we be able to understand, and peacefully embrace, the taking up daily of the necessary cross of living in, but not of, the world: I gave them Your word, and the world hated them, because they do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. I do not ask that You take them out of the world but that You keep them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, so I sent them into the world. And I consecrate Myself for them, so that they also may be consecrated in truth. [17:14-19]

Do not love the world or the things of the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, sensual lust, enticement for the eyes, and a pretentious life, is not from the Father but is from the world. Yet the world and its enticement are passing away. But whoever does the will of God remains forever. [1 Jn. 2:15-17]

From the moment the Most Holy Trinity created all and everyone that has been, is, will be, Kairos is the reality of time and chronos is the aberration, the disruption of time, since original sin.

Jesus’ hour begins and ends with the beginning of creation, enters chronological time visibly with His Incarnation, thus His hour has within it specific ‘events’. In His Ascension He takes chronological time as we experience it in salvation history, into the heart of the Trinity, thus redeeming, sanctifying time: “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “the one who is and who was and who is to come, the almighty.” [Rv. 1:8]

In the Roman Liturgy the Paschal Candle is blessed by the priest who, with a knife, cuts into the wax the sign of the Cross, cutting at the top of the cross the word Alpha and at the bottom the word Omega, and then also the numerals, to the left and right, above and below the arm of the cross the millennium, century, decade, year, while praying: Christ yesterday and today the Beginning and the End, Alpha and Omega, His are the times and ages, To Him be glory and dominion, Through all ages and forever. Amen.

This is Kairos, lived in chronos.

We do ourselves, indeed the entire human family for whom we are baptized to be witnesses of Christ and of the Holy Gospel lived without compromise, no favours and in a sense frustrate the Holy Spirit in His sanctifying activity, if we approach the Divine Liturgy, approach for Holy Communion, or any Sacrament, listen to the proclamation of the Holy Gospel during Liturgy, as observers rather than active participants in Christ’s every unfolding hour.

True most of us at such times as those noted above may be prone to distractions because we are wounded by the pressures of chronological time, so we must ask the Holy Spirit for the gift of attentiveness.

Every moment is grace-gift, a gift not to be wasted. Every season is grace-gift, most fully each liturgical season in which we are given the opportunity to participate, to be nourished, strengthened for the ‘time’ we needs spend in the world without being of it.

There is a translucent aspect to entering any moment, any hour, almost as if time moves towards, embraces and then washes over us.

While in a narrow sense we may say everyone has an awareness of chronological time, such as it is time to go to work, to sleep, whatever, the experience of time is as unique as the person who experiences it. Two people sitting in time on a park bench and one feels the time is passing quickly, the other that time is just creeping along, yet the third person standing there with a watch sees only a specific recorded amount of time has passed.

Returning to St. John’s use of the word ‘hour’ in the life and words of Jesus, this hour rooted in Kairos, experienced in chronology is an experience of transition, of threshold crossing, reminds us that Jesus dwells in, and through baptism we are invited to dwell in, the translucent, shimmering light of the proverbial ‘thin places’, so sought after by Medieval Irish monks.

These places are thin/translucent not because of any physical or material phenomenon but because in such a place the veil between this visible world of chronological time, of history moving towards the end of time, is also, as it were, lifted, experientially perhaps only for a moment, liturgically and always within the reality of baptism, is ever present should we be still enough, forget self and our worries enough, and enter into the garden enclosed in our souls to commune, in love and attentive dialogue with the Most Holy Trinity.

Perhaps the most dramatic affirmation of the above is when the Holy Doors are flung open and left open through the Holy Pascha season revealing the reality and purpose of time, pilgrimage into the eternal Kairos of dwelling within the light and love, the Holy Trinity, God.

Jesus assures us that He is true Light and if we follow Him life within us becomes light, thus we can say Kairos is our true place in time: Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” [v. 12]

With this tremendous gift of faith and discipleship, of true light and life, poured into us at Baptism comes the duty to live out Christ’s command….. your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father. [Mt. 5:16]

It was Tertullian, living during the paganism of his time, who noted how the same pagan society, seeing the Christians in their midst exclaimed: ‘See how they love one another.’

We too live in an, if not pagan, certainly a secular society. How many of our contemporaries say to one another of we Christians: “Look how they love one another!”?

Every time we love others as Christ loves us, every time we, as humble servants, care for another human being, forgive our enemies, pray for those who persecute us, every time we are silent in prayer, attentive during Liturgy, humbly confess our sins, approach and receive Holy Communion, every moment we struggle to be faithful to our, included in our foundational baptismal vocation, the specific adjunct vocation the Holy Spirit has brought us to, that is when we are within the thin place, the translucent place, participating in every dimension of Jesus’ Hour.

© 2019 Fr. Arthur Joseph

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