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25th Week in Ordinary Time
I am the salvation of the people, says the Lord.
Should they cry to me in any distress,
I will hear them, and I will be their Lord for ever.
O God, who founded all the commands of your sacred Law
upon love of you and of our neighbor,
grant that, by keeping your precepts,
we may merit to attain eternal life.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth,
vanity of vanities! All things are vanity!
What profit has man from all the labor
which he toils at under the sun?
One generation passes and another comes,
but the world forever stays.
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. Even the thing of which we say, “See, this is new!” has already existed in the ages that preceded us. There is no remembrance of the men of old; nor of those to come will there be any remembrance among those who come after them.
R. In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.
You turn man back to dust,
saying, “Return, O children of men.”
For a thousand years in your sight
are as yesterday, now that it is past,
or as a watch of the night. R.
You make an end of them in their sleep;
the next morning they are like the changing grass,
Which at dawn springs up anew,
but by evening wilts and fades. R.
Teach us to number our days aright,
that we may gain wisdom of heart.
Return, O Lord! How long?
Have pity on your servants! R.
Fill us at daybreak with your kindness,
that we may shout for joy and gladness all our days.
Prosper the work of our hands for us!
Prosper the work of our hands! R.
I am the way and the truth and the life, says the Lord;
no one comes to the Father except through me. Jn 14:6
Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was happening, and he was greatly perplexed because some were saying, “John has been raised from the dead”; others were saying, “Elijah has appeared”; still others, “One of the ancient prophets has arisen.” But Herod said, “John I beheaded. Who then is this about whom I hear such things?” And he kept trying to see him.
Prayer over the Offerings
Receive with favor, O Lord, we pray,
the offerings of your people,
that what they profess with devotion and faith
may be theirs through these heavenly mysteries.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
You have laid down your precepts to be carefully kept;
may my ways be firm in keeping your statutes. Ps 119 (118):4-5
I am the Good Shepherd, says the Lord;
I know my sheep, and mine know me. Jn 10: 14
Prayer after Communion
Graciously raise up, O Lord,
those you renew with this Sacrament,
that we may come to possess your redemption
both in mystery and in the manner of our life.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Daily Meditation: Ecclesiastes 1:2-11
All things are vanity! (Ecclesiastes 1:2)
Today’s Old Testament reading comes from one of the great pieces of world literature. Like Wisdom and Proverbs, Ecclesiastes contains wise sayings assembled by an unknown author. But unlike those books, Ecclesiastes makes a dramatic declaration about the futility of human efforts: all is vanity (1:2)! Everything we attempt is placed on the scale and found wanting. In fact, it’s not until the end of the book that Qoheleth, the nickname the author gives himself, gives us a lesson to take from all this despair. “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth,” he urges, lest we live for fleeting pleasures and face judgment for our disobedience (12:1, 13-14).
Let’s see what this puzzling book is about so that we can be ready to listen to what God might say to us as we pray through these passages the next few days.
Ecclesiastes offers wisdom gathered over many years. Qoheleth warns the young not to prize too highly the transient rewards that seem so important in life. Kingdoms rise and fall (and, we might say, corporations), and every one of us will die. So nothing that we gain will really remain ours in the end.
But in the midst of Qoheleth’s litany on the futility of all things, there is one constant that we can count on, one thing that gives true wisdom and a firm foundation: God. He is the “one shepherd,” the one source of true, lasting wisdom, who will reward every one of us for what we have done (Ecclesiastes 12:11, 14).
This wisdom certainly still holds today. Ecclesiastes warns us against trying to replace God with any other source of meaning. “If I get my PhD,” “if I get this promotion,” “if I find the right spouse,” then I will be happy and find purpose. Yet none of these things, no matter how good or satisfying or noble, can replace God. “All things are vanity!” (Ecclesiastes 1:2).
Let’s open our hearts to the wise warnings of Ecclesiastes these next few days. Let’s allow the enduring wisdom of God contained in this book to wake us up. And let’s keep in mind the prayer of St. Teresa of Ávila:
“All things pass, God remains. He who has God lacks nothing. God alone is enough.”
Psalm 90:3-6, 12-14, 17
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