Friday of the Twenty-eighth Week in Ordinary Time

Lectionary: 471

In Christ we were also chosen,
destined in accord with the purpose of the One
who accomplishes all things according to the intention of his will,
so that we might exist for the praise of his glory,
we who first hoped in Christ.

When the Wiseman Qoheleth looked at the earth, sea and sky he saw little purpose for human beings:
The sun rises and the sun goes down;
then it presses on to the place where it rises.
Blowing now toward the south, then toward the north,
the wind turns again and again, resuming its rounds.
All rivers go to the sea,
yet never does the sea become full.
To the place where they go,
the rivers keep on going.
All speech is labored;
there is nothing one can say.
The eye is not satisfied with seeing
nor is the ear satisfied with hearing.
What has been, that will be;
what has been done, that will be done.
Nothing is new under the sun.

To his way of thinking human activity changed nothing. He saw buildings built but he saw the same buildings destroyed by wind and rain, floods and earthquakes. His mid-eastern world was marked even then by ancient ruins. As far as he could tell, it was all for naught; every human effort would be washed away in time.

Many hundreds of years later, we are told certain recent developments will remain: from now on and forever there will be an Internet; henceforth into eternity we will have people in orbit around the Earth; technological progress will continue to address and surmount anything that challenges human life.

Some people suppose human beings will explore and colonize the Moon and Mars; we might even send a party of settlers to exoplanets around nearby stars. (What religion will they practice?) We have watched our infrastructure develop for the past ten thousand years and neither climate change nor an ice age can destroy what we have built. Not even God can destroy this Tower of Babel.

Speaking for myself, I see no reason for such optimism. A lot can go wrong between now and eternity; and I find no place for the Church nor for me in that secular future.

I will take my place in the purpose of the One who accomplishes all things according to the intention of his will.” God’s place for you and me is personal; it is a home where you and I are welcome, known, loved, forgiven and understood. It is a place of community and communion.

Qoheleth saw only the mechanical world; he saw the machinery of wind and tide, stars and planets -- the world of the technophile. Hundreds of years later the technophile offers you and I a cell within technological machinery, an empty room in a mechanized house, complete with running water and Internet access. There is no call for fellowship, belonging or intimacy; and no need for sacrifice.

In today’s first reading Saint Paul’s song assures we “exist for the praise of his glory, we who first hoped in Christ.” We can live in that promise; we can abide in his sacrificial way of life. 

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.