Psalm 144:1b and 2abc, 3-4
The author of the Book of Ecclesiastes, Qoheleth or the Preacher, sees man toiling endlessly on earth for minimal gain. When man dies the fruits of his labor merely pass to another. The pleasures of the world do not fulfill man and wealth does not bring man satisfaction.
The Preacher also notes that man has no control over the timing of the end of his earthly life. “Unlike God, who appoints times of prosperity and adversity (7:14), man has no ‘authority over the day of death’ (8:8). The best he can do, says Qoheleth, is to enjoy the good things in life as much as his circumstances allow (2:24; 3:12, 22; 8:15)” (Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon, Ignatius Press, 66).
Qoheleth sees God as the Creator who determines all times and seasons of life (3:1-8). God’s creation is beautiful and good, and, in this creation, man has a special place, for man desires something that goes beyond this life. God has placed this desire for eternity in man’s heart. No creature can satisfy man; only God can: The Lord has made us for himself and our hearts are restless until they rest in him.
The gift of the desire for eternity does not include with it the gift of fully understanding God’s plan for us. The latter is something that we discern little by little through the virtue of faith and the gifts of knowledge, understanding and wisdom. In this life we really only catch a glimpse of God’s plan for creation; in the next life, we will see everything in God himself. We will see his goodness, justice, love and mercy. We will see how he has acted in history and in our lives.
In the Gospel, Peter does not come to the knowledge of Jesus as the Christ on his own. It was revealed to him by God. Peter’s confession of faith is an important step in understanding God’s plan for man. He is confessing that God the Father has sent his only begotten Son as the Redeemer of man. Peter will struggle to understand that Jesus redeems man through the Cross, through suffering, through his death.
After the Resurrection, Peter will confess not only his faith in Jesus but also his love for Jesus. One day he will testify to Christ through his martyrdom in Rome. He will tell the entire world through his death that Jesus is the Christ, the one who saves us and raises us up.
Today’s readings, then, invite us to contemplate not only God’s work of creation and our call to eternal life, but also God’s work of redemption and our call to follow Christ on the way to Jerusalem. We learn that the way to the resurrection of life passes through the suffering of the cross. We are led on that path by God, who governs all things according to his providential plan.
Readers may contact Fr Jason Mitchell at firstname.lastname@example.org.