KAIROS: A HOMILY ON PENTECOST SUNDAY YEAR B, BY FR. IFEANYICHUKWU HENRY NWOKORO C.Ss.R., KIRKWOOD, DUNBRODI & ADDO
The Greek peope have two ways of looking at time, namely Chronos and Kairos. It is from Chronos that we get a word like ‘Chronology’, which is the unfolding succession of event. Time, as Chronos is what we are all used to. Some things happen before other things. You are born, you are a child, you become a youth, you become an adult, you die. This is Chronology. According to this time, today is the 20th of May, 2018, and here we are celebrating the Holy Mass. But there is another concept of time called the Kairos, which has to do with the God’s prefered, or God’s chosen time of action. Sometimes, the time we expect God to do something is not the time he does it. And it is not always clear to us why God choose to do things at the specific time he does them. Someone said that God is never late, but he is rarely early. It is not always clear to us why God chooses a particular time to act, but we know that whenever he chooses is the right time. Kairos helps us to understand the saying that God’s time is the best. God always waits until the time is right.
THE DAY OF PENTECOST
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resing on each one of the. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. And they were amazed and wondered, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontius and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and Proselytes, Cretans and Arabians, we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God: Between the Ressurection of Jesus at Easter and Pentecost is 50 days. The word Pentecost itself speaks of 50 days. A pentagon has 5 straight sides and five angles. The origin of the word Pentecost goes back to the Old Testament. First is refers to the feast of the first fruits. This is when, after a long time of farming, it is time for harvest. It is like the new-yam vestival in Nigeria, where people celebrate the first harvest of yams. No Igbo person is allowed to eat yam untill the new-yam vestival is done. What we get from Pentecost in relation to time is that you do not eat the fruits until they are ready to be eaten. First you plant, and it grows, and you wait for it to ripen. If you eat the fruit that is not ripe, it can give you stomach ache. The same with God’s justice. If God acts at the wrong time, things can become worse rather than better. So God waits for the right time. He is never late, but he is rarely early. The second significance of Pentecost is the giving of the Law to Moses on mount Sinai. If we read the bible carefully, we will discover that there are 50 days between the day the Israelites crossed the red-sea, and the day God gave them his commandment, through Moses. So, when the Jews celebrated the feast of the Pentecost, they celebrate both the feast of the first fruit as well as the giving of the law. So, it is very significant that the Holy Spirit descends on this day on the apostles. This is perfect timing, because it calls to mind the giving of the law and the readiness of the fruit to be eaten.
THE FRUITS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
Brethren: Walk by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against th Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you would. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are plain: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatory, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, lets us also walk by the Spirit. Let us have no self-conceit, no provoking of one another, no envy of one another.: On the feast of the first fruits, we are presented with the fruits of the Holy Spirit. When we are acting, we always act under and influence. It is either we are acting under the influence of the Holy Spirit, or we are acting under the influence of an evil spirit. If we find the actions on the first list above in our lives, then we know we are not under the influence of the Holy Spirit. But if we produce the actions on the second list above, then we are led by the Spirit. In all our actions, it is important to invite the Holy Spirit. There is a special prayer that says, ‘Come Holy Spirit…’. Such prayers always ensure that we are led by the Spirit in all we do. Only then can we bear good fruits. The reading also tells us that those who are led by the Spirit are not under the law. This does not mean they are no longer required to obey the law. What it means is that the law is written in their hearts; obedience to the law becomes not only automatic, but it becomes their source of joy. The first law was given to Moses, on Pentecost day, but people kept these laws because they feared they will be punished if they dont. Today, the disciples recieve the Holy Spirit, and they are led by the Spirit. Obedience to the law is no longer out of a sense of obligation, but it comes from a deep desire. When we are led by the Spirit, we will not obey because we have to, but because we want to. The right time to do anything, is when we are under the influece of the Holy Spirit. Therre are some people so will not speak to you untill they are drunk, then they want to talk. They are doing the right thing at the wrong time. This is not God’s Kairos. God always choose the right time. The disciples were in the room praying and waiting for the Holy Spirit, because they know that without the Holy Spirit, the timing is wrong. Only when the Spirit came did they go out to proclaim the Good News. What is the best time to act? It is when we are led by the Holy Spirit. Never leave your house to go out, without inviting the Holy Spirit. Never do anything important, without the Holy Spirit. Once the Spirit comes, it is perfect timing.
TIMING OF TRUTH
At that time: Jesus said to his disciples, “When the Counsellor comes, whom I shall sent to you from the Father, even the spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me; and you also are witnesses, because you have been with me from the beginning. “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truths; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”: Have you ever wondered why almost every Gospel begins with, ‘At that time’? God chooses the right time to act. Jesus chose the right time to be born, the right time to proclaim the good news, the right time for each miracle. We remember at the wedding at Cana, he said to his mother ‘It is not yet time’, even though it seems he changed the time. He chose the right time to die (on the feast of passover), the right time to rise from the dead (the first day of the week), the right time to ascend into heaven (after 40 days), the right time to send the Holy Spirit (Pentecost). God’s timing is very important. Jesus now tells his disciples that he cannot tell them everything because they cannot handle it at that stage. God does not tell us things when we are not ready to hear them. God does not give us things, when we are not ready to have them. He waits for the perfect time, which to us may seem like delay. But he is never late, even those he is rarely early.
In my own life, I have had situations where I thought things were not going my way. But little did I know that in the Kairos of God, it was the right time for such things to happen, so that greater things can happen at the right time. When the greater things begin to happen, I realise….. Oh, At that time… it was the right time.