27Sep 27 September. Thursday, Week 25

1st Reading: Ecclesiastes/Qohelet (1:2-11)

There’s nothing new under the sun. Vanity of vanities

Vanity of vanities, says the Teacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity.
What do people gain from all the toil at which they toil under the sun?
A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever.
The sun rises and the sun goes down, and hurries to the place where it rises.
The wind blows to the south, and goes around to the north;
round and round goes the wind, and on its circuits the wind returns.
All streams run to the sea, but the sea is not full;
to the place where the streams flow, there they continue to flow.
All things are wearisome; more than one can express;
the eye is not satisfied with seeing, or the ear filled with hearing.
What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done;
there is nothing new under the sun.
Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”?
It has already been, in the ages before us.
The people of long ago are not remembered,
nor will there be any remembrance of people yet to come by those who come after them.

Resp. Psalm (Ps 90)

R.: In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge

You sweep men away like a dream,
like grass which springs up in the morning.
In the morning it springs up and flowers:
by evening it withers and fades. (R./)

Make us know the shortness of our life
that we may gain wisdom of heart.
Lord, relent! Is your anger for ever?
Show pity to your servants. (R./)

In the morning, fill us with your love;
we shall exult and rejoice all our days.
Let the favour of the Lord be upon us:
give success to the work of our hands. (R./)

Gospel: Luke (9:7-9)

Herod was perplexed about Jesus and was eager to see him

Herod the tetrarch had heard about all that was being done by Jesus; and he was puzzled, because some people was saying that
John had risen from the dead, others that Elijah had reappeared, still others that one of the ancient prophets had come back to
life. But Herod said, ‘John? I beheaded him. So who is this I hear such reports about?’ And he was anxious to see Jesus. .


People who have everything

The Bible suggests that a sort of weariness can set in when we have too much, too soon. Etched in the world’s memory are those opening lines of Qoheleth (or Ecclesiastes). The name refers to a preacher to an assembly. But the entire book suggests an assembly that was not a liturgical one nor was the preacher any ordained minister. This wise cynic, this troubling questioner, this tongue-in-check jokester, this affluent writer who owned so much yet called it all a puff of wind, this sage keeps us guessing from the opening word: Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth, vanity of vanities… All things are mere vanity.

Qoheleth does not focus on liturgy but takes a long, hard look at life. He contemplates life as it is and admits that it is ultimately boring, unless we seek the way the way of wisdom, “It is from the hand of God” (2:24), from beginning to end, the work which God has done” (3:11), “rather, fear God.” (5:6), “God made humankind straight, but people have had recourse to many calculations” (7:29). He ends his twelfth and last chapter with these words: The last word is: fear God and keep his commandments, for this is all, for human beings. This may not seem like exalted spirituality, yet it is no small thing to shake loose from complacency and begin our conversion.

Then we have Luke’s portrayal of Herod the Tetrarch, for whom religion was a curiosity, a temporary pill to soothe conscience, a clever way, winning allegiance. It is tragic to think that his wish to see the Nazarene prophet was fulfilled only when for political reasons Pilate sent him the captive Jesus. We are told that “Herod was extremely pleased to see Jesus” (Lk 23:8). Religion, like Jesus, can be used for politics and pleasure, the saddest way to relieve boredom.

The curious king

Different people reacted to Jesus in different ways. Herod Antipas, the son of Herod the Great, was tetrarch of Galilee during the ministry of Jesus. He ruled Galilee on behalf of Rome. Luke portrays the way this Herod reacted to Jesus. Luke says that when Herod heard about all that was being done by Jesus he was puzzled. He was asking himself the question, “Who is this?” As a result, he was anxious to see Jesus. In Luke’s gospel Herod finally did get to see Jesus. In the course of the passion of Jesus Pilate sent Jesus to Herod for a second opinion but Luke tells us that although Herod questioned him at great length, in the end Herod and his soldiers treated Jesus with contempt and mocked him. Herod was curious about Jesus, but his curiosity did not lead to faith.

Other people in the gospels who were curious about Jesus found their way to faith. Nathanael and Nicodemus come to mind. Even for people of faith, there is much to be curious about in regard to Jesus. The question of Herod Antipas, “Who is this?” is a good question for us to consider. We always need to be searchers in his regard because we can never know Christ fully in this life. As Saint Paul says, “now we see as in a mirror dimly.” Our quest is to know the Lord more clearly, to love him more dearly and follow him more nearly.


(Saint Vincent de Paul, priest)

Vincent (1581-1660) from Gascony, France, was a priest who dedicated himself to serving the poor. Renowned for compassion, humility and generosity he was a pioneer in clerical training and in serving the poor. To help in his work he founded the Congregation of the Mission (“Vincentians”) and the Ladies of Charity, later known as the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul. The most flourishing lay Catholic charitable group is also named after him.