Memory of the Mother of the Lord

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Memory of Saint Polycarp, disciple of the apostle John, bishop and martyr (+155).

Reading of the Word of God

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

The Spirit of the Lord is upon you.
The child you shall bear will be holy.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Ecclesiastes 2,12-17

My reflections then turned to wisdom, stupidity and folly. For instance, what can the successor of a king do? What has been done already.

More is to be gained from wisdom than from folly, just as one gains more from light than from darkness; this, of course, I see:

The wise have their eyes open, the fool walks in the dark. No doubt! But I know, too, that one fate awaits them both.

'Since the fool's fate', I thought to myself, 'will be my fate too, what is the point of my having been wise?' I realised that this too is futile.

For there is no lasting memory for the wise or the fool, and in the days to come both will be forgotten; the wise, no less than the fool, must die.

Life I have come to hate, for what is done under the sun disgusts me, since all is futility and chasing after the wind.


Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Look down, O Lord, on your servants.
Be it unto us according to your word.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Pseudo-Solomon extends his reflection to the lived experience. And he questions himself on two more topics: what are wisdom, folly and foolishness? Pseudo-Solomon, after having delved into life’s enigmas, admits his defeat. And he does this by judging the first "good which at the cost of toil" he had cultivated: knowledge and understanding. He considers his quest for wisdom as having passed, his challenge to himself in wanting to be lowered even into the labyrinths of stupidity (cf. 1:17). Well, then, what result has such a persistent quest produced? It is as if to say: "What shall the king who succeeds me do? He shall repeat things already done!" True, if one thinks of his son Roboam, who will split his father’s kingdom into two hostile stumps, as if his father had never existed, weaver of an internal and external politic which was refined and competent. All must begin anew. No doubt wisdom excels folly, like light excels darkness (v.13). The argument is corroborated by proverb: "The wise have eyes in their head, but fools walk in darkness" (v. 14a). But the fact that both die cancels the one’s advantage over the other’s (v. 14b). Death makes everything and everyone even. There will be no remembrance of the wise one or of the fool. All will be forgotten (v. 16). Qohelet asks himself what meaning has life if the same fate which befalls the stupid also happens for me who has understood, discovered and trained? The conclusion is discouraging: "So I hated life." Pseudo-Solomon does not in any case think of putting an end to his life, there is no question of any suicidal purpose. To the contrary, he furiously protests against death. And he acknowledges that life, if it is deprived of love, produces only disgust. Qohelet well knows that anxiously seeking pleasure and success does not lead to happiness, but only to disgust and violence. It is obvious to him that "doing" and "pleasure," in light of the inevitability of death, whether of the just or of the fool, manifests their inabilities to lead one to happiness. Why then toil in order to reflect, understand, know, if only death lies ahead? "This, too," he concludes "is ‘hebel,’" it is a "breath of wind." Death, nevertheless, though it makes the question of the meaning of life dramatic, does not annul it. If anything, it reopens it dramatically. But only with the resurrection of Jesus will there be a full answer to the drama that death casts over human life.