Time (or duration) is nothing other than the situation where love has not yet attained its perfection. Accordingly, since the concept of time is synonymous with something as yet unfinished, when the state of plenitude is reached, time will be no more. But it may be better to say that time is synonymous with imperfect love or love on its way to achieving consummation; hence, time should be seen, in relation to eternity, as what the imperfect is in relation to the perfect: When that which is perfect has come, that which is imperfect will be done away.
When Infinite Love enters time through the mystery of the Incarnation, His participation in temporality although very real, is purely relative. Moments in time are for Him moments of plenitude, which tantamount to saying that it is the moment to leave time. Jesus Christ, who has loved His own to the end (Jn 13:1), speaks constantly about His hour not having come yet; when it finally arrives, it is precisely the time to pass from this world to the Father (John 17:1; 13:1). This seems to be the meaning of His strange remarks to His disciples: My time has not yet come, but your time is always ready (John 7:6), in which a clear relationship is established between perfect and imperfect love, between what has been accomplished and what is still nascent or in a process of maturation.
Love tends irresistibly to unite the two lovers; therefore, it is not surprising that it is always urging on haste, always hurrying impatiently. Irrespectively of the duration of their separation, it will always seem too long to those in love. Any absence of the loved one, any delay in his arrival, provokes an avalanche of demands and requirements from the other, that he come as quickly as possible.
Hence the importance of the time factor in love, even though it has always escaped our attention and is still in need of an in-depth study. Classical poetry, however, has not ignored it quite so much, as we pointed out before; nevertheless, the references made in this poetry to this particular issue are, so to speak, in passing:
Here the poet feels that time is running through his hands, it is so short; and therefore he urges his friend to come quickly. Yet, whether it seems short or fancied long, in fact time is always short (1 Cor 7:29ff). The reason is that, long or short, it is something which necessarily has reference to eternity; and given that this connection with eternity is part of its essence, we must conclude that we should recognize its radical brevity; and it does not matter much whether its duration be long or short. Saint Paul seems to refer to the very slight importance to be given to things man manages to achieve during his lifetime; what he really means is the they all have to be measured in terms of love, for it is only then that they can be seen in proper relief: This I speak for your own profit…for that which is decent and which may give you power to attend upon the Lord, without impediment.