This passage from Ecclesiastes is a challenge to us to stop cursing the darkness. It is telling us that it is better to become a candle pushing back the darkness with our faith in God, the one whose generosity and love are greater than all of the world’s sufferings.
Work. The word has many connotations for us. It is one of life’s realities. We must work in order to both survive and to live well. But, as we know, one of the seven deadly sins in sloth. We all know this temptation. When we are young we have a sense of entitlement, believing that good things should come to us simply because we are here. We look at work as something painful, uncomfortable, something that gets in the way of our freedom to do what we wish to do. Eventually, though, most of us grow out of that and begin to see that though work is a matter of toil, it has its rewards. We even find our human dignity revealed in it. But the inspired author of Ecclesiastes, offers us another perspective here.
This passage reminds us that our lives are short and that death comes for all. But the inspired author of Ecclesiastes challenges us not to focus on life’s shortness. Rather,we are to see each day as a gift from God to be lived well in the here and now. We are to undertake our toils wholeheartedly, enjoying them and their fruits in the present moment. We are to develop the practice of being aware of God’s presence and grace in all things, in everything that we do, even in those toils we sometimes find hard to bear. Though our lives are brief and our joys are never assured, if we focus on God’s gifts each day, and on doing all things in his name in the present, this will keep us from sinking into the temptation of dwelling on the ills that come to us unbidden in this life. It is a challenge to us to see that we have both the power and the freedom to choose our attitudes in any given set of circumstances.
Is it not better to choose to live a life of thanksgiving, of patient endurance, and of faith in God’s love, than to choose to see only the darkness. This passage from Ecclesiastes is a challenge to us to stop cursing the darkness. It is telling us that it is better to become a candle pushing back the darkness with our faith in God, the one whose generosity and love are greater than all of the world’s sufferings. We are challenged to choose an attitude of commitment to life. All of life. God wants us to choose to see the good news in others and in life, not to give in to temptations to despair at the world’s failings, not to succumb to useless angers, or to bitter resentments that can bear no fruit. It is saying to us, “Be alive in God!” Defy the darkness with patient endurance, compassion, mercy and forgiveness.
Lord, pour out your graces upon us. Help us to choose attitudes of joy and patient endurance, even in the midst of our daily toils, and to live each day in the light of our growing faith in your mercy and your infinite love. Give us hearts, minds, and eyes to see the gifts you have bestowed on us each day. We pray these things in your name, Jesus. Amen!
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