Immersed in Christ: September 26, 2020
Saturday of the Twenty-Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
The Responsorial Psalm sings harmony to the first reading in asking: “Make us know the shortness of our life that we may gain wisdom of heart.” But the bottom line, as always, is confidence and hope: “In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge” (Psalm 90). And so the Psalm concludes with the steward’s constant prayer: “May the favor of the Lord be upon us: give success to the work of our hands. Prosper the work of our hands!”
Ecclesiastes 11:9 to 12-8 tells us that if we look ahead, restricting our view just to the plane of human time, everything is ultimately worthless. Nothing lasts, including our lives on this earth. But youth are not inclined to look ahead. So Ecclesiastes begins by taking the young as they are: “Go ahead,” he says, “Follow the promptings of your heart and the desires of your eyes…. Cast worry from your heart.” But you still need to know, he concludes, that “for all these things God will bring you to judgment.” Whether the young face it or not, youth doesn’t last. Like everything else “youth is vanity.”
Ecclesiastes counsels the young: “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before...” and then gives a vivid description of the negative aspects of old age, ending in Ecclesiastes’ theme song: “Vanity of vanities… All is vanity.” His point is that life is entrusted to us to be used well, and if we just do what “comes naturally,” without thinking responsibly about it, we will find in old age that we have literally wasted our time.
Life isn’t just something that is; it is an ongoing gift of our Creator. We are stewards of our lives, not absolute owners. God expects a return on his investment.1 The return benefits us — what God wants is for us to grow to “life to the full” 2 — and it benefits the human race, but it is God’s plan and desire that we should play a part in bringing to fulfillment all he began both as Creator and as Redeemer.3 Nature and grace are both gifts of God. But they are gifts entrusted to us for development.4 Old age should be for us a time for rejoicing in a fruitful life.
In Luke 9: 43-45 when Jesus is “handed over into the power of men” his disciples, not looking beyond the plane of human time, see this as proof that “all is vanity.” This reminds us that what is entrusted to our stewardship is the truth of resurrection. That changes everything.
1 Matthew 25:27.
2 John 10:10.
3 Colossians 1: 15-20; Ephesians 1: 9-10.
4 Genesis 1: 26-28; 2:15; Isaiah 5: 1-4; Matthew 3:8, 7:19; 9: 37-38; 13: 3-23; 21: 33-43; Luke 13:6-9; John 4: 31-38; 15: 1-16; Romans 7:4; Ephesians 5: 6-17; Colossians 1: 3-10.
Initiative: Be a steward of the revelation that Jesus risen is working in us.