Jesus, not exactly a stand-up comedian, (is said to have said), in His one and only pun, that He would build His Church on the foundation that was Peter the Rock.
“Upon this rock”, in an entirely different sense, expresses the terrestrial destiny of every one of us, condemned – or blessed with the chance – to live on this lonely, perhaps unique, rock-planet, lost in a corner of a vast Universe, which may contain countless other such rocks endowed with living creatures like, or entirely different from, us, or no other such life-bearing rocks at all.
We will never, I’m afraid, know whether or not we are alone in the Universe. Even if scientists are convinced that there is other life out there, chances are we will never discover it. Meantime, we personally have life upon this rock, and can expect no other elsewhere – or, above all, after we die.
In many respects, this IS a “wonderful world”. But it was never a Paradise. The majesty of mountains, the beauty of magnificent rain-forests and waterfalls, the awesome spectacle of erupting volcanoes, the might of the oceans, the splendor of sunsets and the heavens at night, the multiple manifestations of the miracle and variety of life on this planet, that make some believe in God and in supposedly Intelligent Design – all these are marred, nonetheless, by natural cataclysms, disasters of all sorts, and by the ever-present slings and arrows which all of us regularly experience, to say nothing of the crimes we commit against each other.
But this rock and this life are all we’ve got. We have succeeded over the centuries in making life pretty intolerable for most of its inhabitants, vegetal, animal and human. We may soon even succeed in achieving the suicide of our own species and the destruction of the others. The choice is ours. But upon this rock we still have the chance to build fruitful, useful, meaningful lives worth living. If we cannot be grateful (there’s No One to thank), we should at least be conscious of our good fortune.