28Sep 28 September. Friday, Week 25

1st Reading: Ecclesiastes (3:1-11)

There’s a right time for everything as we go through life

For everything there is a season,
and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to throw away stones,
and a time to gather stones together.

A time to embrace,
and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

What gain have the workers from their toil?
I have seen the business that God has given to everyone to be busy with. He has made everything suitable for its time; moreover he has put a sense of past and future into their minds, yet they cannot find out what God has done from the beginnng to the end.

Resp. Psalm (Ps 144)

R.: Blessed be the Lord, my Rock

Blessed be the Lord, my rock.
He is my love, my fortress;
he is my stronghold, my saviour,
my shield, my place of refuge. (R./)

Lord, what is man that you care for him,
mortal man, that you keep him in mind;
man, who is merely a breath
whose life fades like a passing shadow? (R./)

Gospel: Luke (9:18-22)

Peter’s faith. Jesus predicts his death and resurrection

Once when Jesus was praying alone, with only the disciples near him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” They answered, “John the Baptist; but others, Elijah; and still others, that one of the ancient prophets has arisen.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered, “The Messiah of God.”

He sternly ordered and commanded them not to tell anyone, saying, “The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”


Memorable moments

Ecclesiastes/Qoheleth mirrors life’s highs and lows, in this text so often cited at funerals. “There is an appointed time for everything…. A time to be born, and a time to die,” etc. It suggests that life has purpose (“appointed time for everything”) and yet seems at times either pointless or monotonous. We never seem to quite fulfil our plans and desires. The author implies that “here we have no lasting city; we are seeking one which is to come” (Hebrews 13:14).

Today’s Gospel sees a new “moment” when Peter proclaims Jesus as Messiah. Like Mark (8:29ff), Luke has nothing about Peter being the Rock and Bearer of the Keys, but has Jesus starkly predicting his Passion. Matthew’s well-quoted text about the Petrine primacy (16:16-20) is probably a post-Easter interpretation of Peter’s role, in light of his ministry (illustrated in Acts 1-12) and subsequent martyrdom. Clearly, Jesus preferred for himself the title “Son of Man”  rather than Messiah. This mysterious title (Son-of-Man) was meant to convey the self-sacrifice of the one who came to serve, not to be served (Mk 8:45). This is a truth that Peter, the Twelve and all of us, need to  learn again and again.

A time to explain

It is easy to engage with this morning’s first reading, ‘There is a season for everything.’ We sense a profound truth in the insight that everything has its proper time. But if there is a right time for everything, we don’t always succeed in finding it. Often it’s hard to get our timing right. We might speak when it is a time for silence, or be silent when it is really a time to speak. If we learn from experience, we can get our timing better. The more we are in tune with God, the better our timing will be.

One might say that Jesus’ timing was perfect because he was fully in tune with God. Today’s gospel describes him asking the disciples a decisive question, ‘Who do you say I am?’ He knew it was time to ask them this question. It was also time  to explain to them what kind of Christ he was, the Son of Man who was destined to suffer grievously. The question he asked his disciples is timely for all of us. We need to keep making our personal response to this question.

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