Thursday, September 27, 2012
Daily Mass Homily: Thursday, September 27th, 2012
This morning we are introduced to a very unique book of the Bible—Ecclesiastes. The writer is self-titled Qoheleth—the teacher—and tradition says this is a writing of Solomon or someone writing in Solomon’s name.
Talk about a Debbie-downer introduction. “Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth, vanity of vanities! All things are vanity!” I think we should make a push to have this read at Mass every Monday morning.
Qoheleth is basically saying, “What’s the point?” The author claims to have grown in wisdom, wealth and worldly knowledge. At the same time, he wonders what the point is to any of this because, whether rich or poor, full or hungry, wise or foolish, the same end comes to all—death. Is there any profit to anything except to eat, drink and be merry in the few years we have on earth?
Peter Kreeft has said that this book asks the question that the rest of the Bible answers—what’s the purpose of life?
I have adapted an activity from my Mom that I frequently use with kids to illustrate this point. Imagine some of the blessings in your life—your family, hobbies and passions. Now picture me writing a zero on a chalkboard (we really need a chalk board up here!) for everyone’s blessings. Imagine the string of 70 or so zeroes on this board. I then ask the kids (because this is math related, and math is the best!) how much is 70 (or any number of) zeroes? Zero. Yet what happens if I place the number one before all these zeroes? What was once nothing is now a huge number.
We have a blessed vantage point because we live after Jesus Christ’s incarnation. We can see that, if Christ is not the center of our lives and our greatest priority, all we do is truly “vanity of vanities”. Yet when God is put first, all of these “vain” activities become infinitely valuable. Unlike Qoheleth instead of saying “vanity of vanities” we can say with St. Paul, “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice!”