There is an appointed time for everything,
and a time for every thing under the heavens.
A time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to uproot the plant....
In his first chapter of Ecclesiastes, Qoheleth complains about the endless cycles of nature and the plight of the human creature who is both subject to these cycles and critically aware of them.
With his wonderful poem about appointed times, he presents the cycles of the spirit. If we prefer to make a platonic distinction between matter and spirit, between blind nature and deliberate intelligence, Qoheleth points to the inevitable cycles that bring war and peace, prosperity and poverty, affection and contempt, joy and grief. The Hebrew poet cannot draw a sharp distinction between flesh and spirit; we are incarnate spirits subject to cycles of the flesh and of the spirit.
Those who let their preferences control their attitudes and behaviors are fools; or, at least, they risk condemnation as fools. Everyone recalls British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain's happy announcement, "Peace in our time!" following the Munich Agreement. Less than a year later, Hitler's armies invaded Poland and Europe was thrown into a second world war. He declared peace in a time of war; and his name will always be associated with that catastrophic delusion.
I often hear people say, "I oppose war!" Well, yeah! Who would love the violence, waste and horror of war?
But have you examined the roots of war? Have you asked how do masses of people allow themselves to be drawn by the cycles ineluctably and irresistibly into the eddy of conflict? Will your unresolved quarrel with your neighbor contribute to the momentum of next year's or next century's mortal conflict? Will your attitude about certain races, religions or sexual preferences, inherited by your children and grandchildren, create internment camps twenty or thirty years from now? Does your "hobby" of shopping contribute to the waste which generates poverty and violence?
Did you, during a time of peace, stupidly wage war?
Only the Holy Spirit knows the time. Human beings, caught as we are in the cycles of nature, enslaved by our fears and desires, cannot see above the fray of daily challenges. We do not know what is really happening around us. We must pray daily for that willing, compliant attitude that is compelled by the Holy Spirit who knows what to do and when to do it.