Thursday, September 23, 2010

Same old same old?

Well, today we got Qoheleth's "Vanity of Vanities" as our first reading. You hear that (or, as I did for our community Mass today, proclaim it) and it seems so inconsistent with that closing statement, "The Word of the Lord," doesn't it almost come naturally to say, "Wait, really?" But there it is. "There is nothing new under the sun. Even the things of which they say, 'See, this is new," has already existed in the ages past." Qoheleth looked around and saw the same old same old: nature and history stuck in a repetitive cycle, seemingly without escape.
Is he right?
In the light of today's Gospel, you could say that he was right at the time. (In the Gospel, Herod hears about Jesus' miracles, and all the people are saying he must be one of the ancient prophets--or maybe John the Baptist--back from the dead. It couldn't be...something new, could it?)

Qoheleth's pessimistic poetry becomes a reminder of the hopelessness of the human situation when we are left to ourselves: "Salvation we have not achieved for the earth, the inhabitants of the world cannot bring it forth" (Is. 26). But with the coming of Jesus into the world, we can't take Qoheleth totally at his word.
Through a virgin you have brought forth a new birth in our world;
Through your miracles, a new power;
Through your suffering, a new patience;
In your resurrection, new hope;
And in your ascension, a new majesty.
(From the Liturgy of the Hours)
Now every day really is new; God is always up to something we could never even dream of. All we need are eyes to see and ears to hear (and "the eye is never filled with seeing, nor the ear with hearing" the infinite wealth of God's grace). 


mumbarge said...

Truly beautiful exegesis. Thank you. And thank the Lord for giving it to you.

Anonymous said...

Qoheleth, a faithful Jew, clearly suffered from depression, QED. I hope Jesus harrowed him out of Gehenna and into Heaven to understand the hope and joy of the Resurrection.