Recently, a dear friend of many years, at age 58, passed away of a malignant brain tumour. She fought this cancer for about one year. There was no sadness in her, only satisfaction with her life. With every day she had the chance, she lived richly and then graciously accepted her transition to somewhere better as her husband helped her to sit up for a morning cup of coffee.
Eight years ago, my sister-in-law, Cathy, died of bone cancer. On a Friday, the doctor told her she was ineligible for any further chemotherapy - it would be lethal. After a four-year battle, she was going to lose. She would not see her 13 year-old daughter get married, nor even see her son graduate high school that year.
Yet the following day, she told us she had seen where she was going, she wasn’t worried any more, and she wanted to go now. She died on Monday, calling out to her kids the moment before friends visiting found she had passed..
“Chronos” and “kairos,” the two Greek words for time, help to enlighten an idea that God defined for us on the fourth day of creation, with the lights that would define the day and the night. Chronos is a measurable resource that is sequential. Kairos is a supreme or opportune moment.
Although these two women strongly demonstrate the sense of chronos, neither creates a sense of end. Indeed, for both, it seems like an instant in “chronos” created infinity. To witness Cathy's vivid appreciation of what was coming after was a Kairos moment for me. Chronos as days and nights seems like an earthly limitation, exemplified by the light by day and the light by night, and after death, there seems no need or want of this measurable resource.
An “era” is a long and distinct period in history with a particular feature or characteristic, a chronos time that extends from a beginning to an end. We have entered a new era characterized by populism, defined as a thin ideology that merely sets up a framework: that of a pure people versus a corrupt elite.
South of the 49th parallel a populist president has declared, “The beauty of me is that I’m very rich.” “My whole life I’ve been greedy, greedy, greedy. I’ve grabbed all the money I can get. But now I want to be greedy for the United States. I want to grab all that money. I’m going to be greedy for the United States.”
In reflecting on these words, I am led to consider the “Meditation on the Two Standards” from the Spiritual Exercises. These words so clearly point to Mammon as the primary goal, rather than God, making self as the centre of the world, rather than God. Wealth has led to desires of power and adulation. How easy this message is to accept, and how easy it is to blame others for failure to succeed for self.
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7: 15-16)
The wolf has also disguised himself in the sheep’s clothing of an anti-abortion stance, a very successful disguise which has allowed other actions to be excused by many. Should an appraisal be based upon a single, though compelling, issue?
With so much “fake news”, so many lies, so much social media and internet manipulation, this era begs the question “What is truth?” Does the truth matter?
Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Every one who is of the truth hears my voice.” Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” After he had said this, he went out to the Jews again, and told them, “I find no crime in him." (John 18: 37-38)
We know where the truth rests.
Have we reached a kairos moment? With one choice being so public, so clear and so attractive, are we being called to articulate the other? Is this the “opportune moment” and how do we act upon it?
 For a clear explanation of the Meditation on the Two Standards, please click HERE.