Thursday of 25th Week of the Year, September 24, 2020

Today we hear a man who is puzzled: Qoheleth, Ecclesiastes, the preacher (the man who speaks in the assembly) in search of answers to the problems of life; he is apparently a disillusioned man; “the inspired pessimist” as he is sometimes called, but he is a believer, and there must be answers.
Herod, too, was puzzled about this man Jesus. He wanted to see this strange prophet about whom there were so many rumours. Does Jesus puzzle us? Do the gospel and life and our faith puzzle us? Are we in constant search of the deeper meaning of our Christian life? Our search for Jesus must be rooted in faith and trust in God.

Opening Prayer
Lord our God,
you came to make all things new
through Jesus Christ, your Son.
Let him question us
and let us question ourselves
whether we give him in our lives
the place he deserves.
Make him the meaning
of all we are and do,
for he is our risen Lord for ever. Amen!

1 Reading: Ecclesiastes 1:2-11
Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth, vanity of vanities! All things are vanity! What profit has man from all the labour 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 laboured; 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.

Responsorial Psalm 90:3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 14 AND 17BC
R. (1) 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.

Alleluia John 14:6
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I am the way and the truth and the life, says the Lord;
no one comes to the Father except through me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Luke 9:7-9
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.

Ecclesiastes (or Qoheleth, as it is commonly known) is not a very uplifting book. The author maintains that the big questions in life remain unanswered. One can do no better than to continue with one’s daily pursuits, confident that God will see him through, but not struggling to understand the divine plan. There is an endless repetition in fife, cycles that remain the same, and humanity’s unending desire to make sense of it all. All of this is vanity (or a wisp of smoke), provoking desires that will never be satisfied. With “nothing new under the sun,” one can only continue on the path set before her.
Herod’s burning curiosity to see Jesus is due to the rumours that have spread about him. Some claim that Jesus is the Baptist returned to life. But the Baptist was the man that Herod himself had executed. Was he Elijah or one of the prophets? Herod wanted to question him. This desire to see Jesus will be fulfilled partially at the time of Jesus’ trial. Pilate has Christ sent to Herod, but in the presence of Herod Jesus does not utter a word.
Herod’s designs come to nothing. There are times when idle speculation gets us nowhere, and there is a certain truth in Qoheleth. There are many things in life that remain as unanswered questions. All of us have experienced those moments. Some things we must simply leave in the hands of God, trusting fully in his wisdom and goodness.

– Lord, keep us always searching to understand you and our gospel better, we pray:
– Lord, let our faith be a light that makes us see the meaning of our lives, we pray:
– Lord, make us patient with those who are lax in their faith, that we may not extinguish the smouldering wick, we pray:

Prayer over the Gifts
Lord our God,
through these offerings of bread and wine
your Son will appear in our midst
as the Lord of life.
Let him touch our hearts,
that we may fully believe in him
and that we may be alive
with the life he brought us.
We ask you this through Christ our Lord. Amen!

Prayer after Communion
God our Father,
we know Jesus, your Son:
he has spoken to us
and shared his table with us.
Make us anxious
to see and recognize him
in the events of life
and in the people around us,
that life may not be empty and vain
but ever beautiful and new
in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen!

Is everything really in vain? Is there no meaning in life? In moments of doubt and questioning, we ask ourselves perhaps this question. But then we remember we are people of faith, and our faith and our life are very meaningful. Let God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!

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