God is at work

Our readings today seem to have little in common, but on closer analysis, not so.

Yesterday we commenced a journey through the enigmatic Book of Ecclesiastes that begins memorably with “Vanity. Vanity. All is vanity!” The writer spends the book engaging with vicissitudes of life, never happy with his findings. He concludes that life is incomprehensible, but it’s best to obey God anyway.

Today the writer identifies times for otherwise contrariwise events; birth – death, planting – uprooting, killing – healing, etc. It seems to make no sense, but “God has made everything appropriate for its time.” But we want to ask, ‘Why is there a time to die? ” Why a time to kill?’ We are told then that God has given Man (us) enough [intelligence] to “consider time in its wholeness,” but we “cannot comprehend the work of God.” We are smart enough to wonder, to question, but not smart enough to make sense of it.

In the Gospel, Jesus asks the Disciples whom people say He is. Unlike the wild guesses of contemporaries, Peter accurately identifies who Jesus really is, but he can’t understand what this means. Jesus’ next statement – that He will soon be rejected and murdered is utterly incomprehensible. Like Man in Ecclesiastes, Peter’s observations and reason give him insights but not enough to grasp the whole.

As recorded by the Gospels, Jesus’ progressive self-revelation to others in Galilee makes sense to us. What makes no sense to Peter and to others is Jesus’ warning of His impending suffering. At this point, the Disciples don’t have enough knowledge to work with. It will only be retrospectively, in the light of the Resurrection, that they understand God’s deeper purpose.

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We are no different.

We indeed know the final result of Jesus’ earthly existence, but the march of Salvation History seems so contradictory with times of growth and life counterposed with chaos and destruction. Perhaps now more than any other, we need to remember our limits: We have enough to observe and reason and so to act in faith. We don’t yet know

But a time is coming when, like Peter, we will.

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