Time That Is Timeless
Twenty-Fifth Week of Year II Friday September 23, 2016
The Responsorial Psalm adds a balancing note of stability to the first reading: “Blessed be the Lord, my Rock!” (Psalm 144).
Ecclesiastes 3: 1-11 reflects on the human experience of change and of time. We experience one thing after another. One period of time is unlike another, and what is appropriate or possible at one time of life is not when we move into another. “There is a season for everything, a time for every occupation under heaven.”
Humans can “consider time in its wholeness,” aware that there is a past and a future, but we really cannot see the whole picture. We cannot “comprehend the work of God from beginning to end.” So Ecclesiastes goes on to conclude there is nothing better for humans than to make the most of the present moment: to “be happy and enjoy themselves as long as they live.” He sees it as “God’s gift that all should eat and drink and take pleasure in all their toil.” But when we quote this — “Eat, drink and be merry! — there is a note of fatalism in it, as if we are closing our eyes to an emptiness in life that we do not want to face.
The Responsorial Psalm shows us where to look for stability in our changing world: “Blessed be the Lord, my Rock!” — “my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge.” It is true our life “fades like a shadow,” but God endures. And we who have received “grace” — the “favor” of sharing in the divine life of God — will also live forever with God and in him. “The world and its desire are passing away, but those who do the will of God live forever.”1 In the same way, the fruit of our labors for God on earth will endure forever: “I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last.”2 This gives new meaning to “Blessed be the Lord, my Rock!”
Luke 9: 18-22 sounds like an echo of Ecclesiastes: “There is nothing new under the sun.” The “crowds” think Jesus is “John the Baptizer... Elijah… [or] one of the ancient prophets come back to life.” But Peter, speaking for Christ’s disciples, recognizes that Jesus is a different reality altogether, something new, the like of which had never been seen on earth before: “The Christ [Anointed] of God,” the “Messiah, the Son of the living God.”3
Jesus goes on to prepare his disciples for the shock of his death. But he announces that his work will not end in death: he will rise and continue to fulfill his mission in his risen body on earth; in us. This is the mystery of our stewardship: Jesus transcends time. His work endures in us.
11John 2:17; John 6: 26-59. 2John 15:16. 3Matthew 16:16.