We tend to be obsessed with “time”. We have atomic clocks to help us track time with the greatest possible accuracy, down to the milliseconds. Our fascination with time is probably because we never have enough of it. Like the white rabbit in Alice in Wonderland we are always late for an important date. A new year is an invitation to consider time not in the measurement of seconds and minutes but in terms of the meaning of our lives. The language of the New Testament
has two entirely different words for time. One was the word “chronos” which was used for the passing of days. It is the source of our word “chronology”. But the word “Kairos” was used to mean a truly important moment, a defining time in one’s life, a turning point. As the saying goes, “The measure of life is not in the number of breaths we take (chronos), but in the moments that take our breath away (Kairos).” A new year then is a call to wake up and realize the important time before us, to use well the moments in which we are living. In the gospel, Jesus often reminds us that the most important moments in life can come upon us without notice, just as the end of life can come without warning. The appropriate response to this insight is not fear or anxiety, but an accelerated urgency not to waste the precious gift of time and life, or take it lightly. But instead, to seize the moments at hand, and do good while we can—to love courageously, to give generously, to forgive readily, to offer hospitality gladly and to worship God joyously. At the end, these are the moments that last.