Eternity in our Hearts

Christ Pantocrator, 13th century Serbian icon

25th Week in Ordinary Time, Friday (Year II)

Ecclesiastes 3:1-11; Psalm 144; Luke 9:18-22

There is an appointed time for everything,
and a time for every thing under the heavens.
A time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to uproot the plant.
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to tear down, and a time to build.
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones, and a time to gather them;
a time to embrace, and a time to be far from embraces.
A time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away.
A time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to be silent, and a time to speak.
A time to love, and a time to hate;
a time of war, and a time of peace.

The lilting cadences of this Hebrew poem flowed from a wonderstruck sage surveying the cyclical movements of the universe. Rising and falling like sunrise and sunset, nature’s course goes round and round, “blowing now toward the south, then toward the north” (Ecclesiastes 1:5-6). Human feelings and behavior seem to mirror the cosmic laws of action and reaction. Is humanity doomed to be swept along with the winds of change without any possibility of freedom? The human person seems like a tiny atom in a vast, immeasurable cosmos:

LORD, what is man, that you notice him;
the son of man, that you take thought of him?
Man is like a breath;
his days, like a passing shadow. (Psalm 144:3-4)

A strange incongruity looms before the psalmist: vaporous, shadowy Adam fades continually, yet the Lord of heaven and earth regards him as the apple of his eye (Psalm 17:8). There’s more to Adam than meets the eye!

Once when Jesus (Adam) was praying in solitude, and the disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” They said in reply, “John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, ‘One of the ancient prophets has arisen.’” Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter said in reply, “The Christ of God.” He rebuked them and directed them not to tell this to anyone. He said, “The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.”

Peter’s inspired confession of the Christ sprouted from the seed of a new, deifying consciousness. Immutable divinity assumed shadowy humanity in the person of the Son of God, opening the path of return to the Father in the Holy Spirit.

The Logos beyond action and reaction was born to die and rise, to suffer without retaliation, and to be killed while forgiving his enemies. Yet Jesus harmonized with the laws of action and reaction when it was fitting: The disciples were directed to obey the rhythm of a time to be silent, and a time to speak. Premature proclamations of the Christ were forbidden.

He has made everything appropriate to its time, and has put the timeless into their hearts, without man’s ever discovering, from beginning to end, the work which God has done (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

Eternity (olam) is at the very heart of the human person called to deification. Every human heart from conception to eternity longs for Trinitarian union and communion. 


One Reply to “Eternity in our Hearts”

  1. “Time for everything” seems like a way of perfection, with checks and balances that keep us hopeful as we journey towards our Lord. What I find remarkable too is that it seems “doable.” The only one I find hard to do is “…and a time to hate.” Thank you for renewing my spirit this morning.

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