Commentary on the reading of the day provided by
priest and theologian
1st sermon on Psalm 38 (SC 411, p. 355)
“Summer is now near”
“Let me know, O Lord, my end and what is the number of my days, that I may learn what it is I lack” (Ps 38,5).
If you let me know my end, the psalmist says, and if you let me know the number of my days then by that alone I shall know what it is I am lacking.
Or, possibly, he may be indicating the following by these words: every occupation has an end; for example, the end of a building business is to build a house; the end of a naval yard is to build a ship capable of surmounting the waves of the sea and resisting the winds’ assaults; and the end of every occupation is something similar for which the occupation itself seems to have been conceived.
In the same way there may also be a certain end to our life and to the world as a whole for which all that happens in our life takes place or for which the world itself was created or subsists.
Concerning this end the apostle Paul is also thinking when he says: “Then comes the end when he hands over the Kingdom to God his Father” (1Cor 15,24).
Now to this end we must most certainly hasten since it is itself the reward of the work, it is what we were created for by God.
Just as our bodily organism, which in the beginning is small and reduced at its birth, nevertheless grows and reaches towards its full height as it increases in age; and as our soul, too, … is first of all given a stammering speech that then becomes more clear so as to come finally to a means of expressing itself perfectly and correctly, so too, certainly, all our life begins now as if stammering among people on earth, but it is brought to completion and attains its full capacity in the heavens with God.
For this reason, therefore, the prophet wants to know the end for which he was made so that by looking towards the end, examining his days and considering his perfection he may see what it is he still lacks regarding the end to which he is moving… It is just as if those who went out from Egypt had said: “Let me know, O Lord, my end”, a good and holy land, “and the number of my days” to where I am travelling, “so that I may know what I still lack”, how much there remains for me to do before I reach that holy land promised to me.