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.
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./)
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."
Life's highs and lows are echoed in today's text from Ecclesiastes/ Qoheleth, so often read at funerals. "There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens. A time to be born, and a time to die," etc. The author knows that everything has its purpose ("an appointed time for everything") but feels that own life has grown repetitive and monotonous. His mood might have been lighter if he had shared the belief of the early Christians that "here we have no lasting city but seek one which is to come" (Hebrews 13:14).
The Gospel sees a supremely new "moment" in the coming of Jesus, whom Peter's faith proclaims as the Messiah. This was an important episode which is reported in three of the Gospels. Like Mark (8:29ff), Saint Luke makes no mention of Peter being appointed as the Rock to whom Jesus entrusted the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Biblical scholars treat the famous words about the primacy of Saint Peter (Mt 16:16-20) as an inspired, post-resurrectional interpretation of Peter's role, in light of the wonderful ministry actually carried out after the resurrection.
Strangely, Jesus preferred to call himself "Son of Man" rather than Messiah; for it was better suited to express the kind of messiah he would be, foreseeing the hard, sacrificial end of his ministry. The Son of Man came among us "to serve, not to be served" (Mk 8:45), and this is a lesson that Peter, the Twelve and all of us, must learn again and again.
'There is a season for everything, a time for every occupation under heaven.' We sense a deep truth in the insight that everything has its time. But if there is a right time for everything, we don't always find it. For example, do speak out of turn, when it is really a time for silence? Or do we stay silent when it is really a time to speak up?
We an learn from experience how to get our timing better. The more we are in tune with God, the better our timing will be. The timing of Jesus was perfect, because he was completely in tune with God.
After a time of prayer he asked the decisive question, 'Who do you say I am?' The time had also come to tell them the kind of Christ that he was, the Son of Man who would suffer much, be put to death and then be raised up.
That decisive question remains timely for all of us. It is a question that always puts our faithfulness to the test. We are invited to keep making our own personal response to this challenging question.