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 represented 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 combines purpose ("an appointed time for everything") with the timeless and monotonous. We never seem to complete the pursuit of our desires and objectives. We interpret this reaction as a healthy way, making decisions and an equally healthy way, knowing that "here we have no lasting city; we are seeking one which is to come" (Hebrews 13:14).
The Gospel recognizes a supremely new "moment" in the coming of Jesus, whom Peter's faith proclaims as the Messiah, an important episode which Matthew and Mark locate in Caesarea Philippi. Like Mark (8:29ff), Luke has here no mention of Peter being appointed as Rock and Bearer of the Keys, but rather passes straight on to the sombre prediction of the Passion. One must presume that Matthew's famous text about the Petrine primacy (16:16-20) is an inspired, post-resurrectional interpretation of Saint Peter's role, in light of the wonderful ministry actually carried out by Peter, and illustrated in Acts 1-12. Clearly, Jesus preferred the title "Son of Man" for himself, rather than Messiah; for it was better suited to carry the hard, sacrificial aspect of his ministry: He has come to serve, not to be served (Mk 8:45), and this is a truth that Peter, the Twelve and all of us, must learn again and again.
Many people find themselves drawn by this morning's first reading, 'There is a season for everything, a time for every occupation under heaven.' We sense that there is a profound truth in the insight that everything has its time. If there is a right time for everything, we don't always succeed in finding it. We know from our own experience that our timing can be off. For example, we may speak when it is really a time for silence, or be silent when it is really a time to speak. If we learn from our experiences, we can get our timing better. The more we are in tune with God, the better our timing will be. That is why Jesus' timing was perfect, because he was completely in tune with God. He knew the time for everything. At the beginning of this morning's gospel, we find Jesus praying alone. Coming from his prayer he asked his disciples the decisive question, 'Who do you say I am?' Jesus understood that the time had come for him to ask this question of his disciples. The time had also come to speak about the kind of Christ that he was, the Son of Man who was destined to suffer grievously, be put to death and then be raised up. That question of Jesus to his disciples remains alive for all of us; it remains timely for all of us. It is a question that always has its time; it is timeless. We are invited to keep making our own personal response to Jesus' question.