Memory of the Poor

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Reading of the Word of God

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

This is the Gospel of the poor,
liberation for the imprisoned,
sight for the blind,
freedom for the oppressed.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Ecclesiastes 9,1-10

Yes, I have applied myself to all this and experienced all this to be so: that is to say, that the upright and the wise, with their activities, are in the hands of God. We do not understand either love or hate, where we are concerned, both of them are

futile. And for all of us is reserved a common fate, for the upright and for the wicked, for the good and for the bad; whether we are ritually pure or not, whether we offer sacrifice or not: it is the same for the good and for the sinner, for someone who takes a vow, as for someone who fears to do so.

This is another evil among those occurring under the sun: that there should be the same fate for everyone. The human heart, however, is full of wickedness; folly lurks in our hearts throughout our lives, until we end among the dead.

But there is hope for someone still linked to the rest of the living: better be a live dog than a dead lion.

The living are at least aware that they are going to die, but the dead know nothing whatever. No more wages for them, since their memory is forgotten.

Their love, their hate, their jealousy, have perished long since, and they will never have any further part in what goes on under the sun.

So, eat your bread in joy, drink your wine with a glad heart, since God has already approved your actions.

At all times, dress in white and keep your head well scented.

Spend your life with the woman you love, all the days of futile life God gives you under the sun, throughout your futile days, since this is your lot in life and in the effort you expend under the sun.

Whatever work you find to do, do it with all your might, for there is neither achievement, nor planning, nor science, nor wisdom in Sheol where you are going.


Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

The Son of Man came to serve,
whoever wants to be great
should become servant of all.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Qohelet knows that "the righteous and the wise and their deeds are in the hands of God" (v. 1). Wisdom will also write thus: "The souls of the righteous are in the hands of God, and no torment will ever touch them." But Qohelet affirms that humans know nothing of what pertains to their future, they do not even know with certainty if what they do is only love or if it is only hate. And above all, they do not know if God’s response will be love or hate. All is like a fog. One thing they know: that all die, righteous and unjust, pious and impious, good and wicked, pure and impure. Death levels everyone and applies to all (vv. 2-3). In front of death, any person experiences the fragility and weakness of his or her own life. What to do? Despite everything -writes the author- life is preferable to death: "for a living dog is better than a dead lion" (v. 4). As long as one lives there is a possibility of joy (vv. 7-9), while when one is dead all possibility of changing one’s lot vanishes and all hope is gone. Besides hope, the living have knowledge, at least knowledge that they will die (v. 5), but the dead are granted nothing, neither knowledge nor wisdom, or work, or thought, or hope (v. 10). The dead do not know anything and receive no reward because no one remembers them anymore. And leaving behind a good name is no consolation (cf. 7:1). With death, everything ends, whether one has loved or hated or been full of envy (v. 6). The prospect of death and ignorance of the afterlife should not however deprive one of the will to live and enjoy life. Rather, in the name of Adam who went out of the garden of Eden, he invites everyone to not desert the banquet of life: "Go, eat your bread with enjoyment, and drink your wine with a merry heart" (v. 7). Your works (v. 7), that is, all that you will do to procure joy and happiness for yourself, are pleasing to God, who wants our contentment. Life is a gift God grants, and we are invited to enjoy it together with the woman that one loves. White garments and perfumed oil are signs of the feast of joy that humans should celebrate (v. 8). Nevertheless Qohelet knows that life is fleeting (v. 9), not void of sorrows and suffering. He does not then yield to an easy optimism, but invites one to put to good use every occasion and every gift received. Experience shows that not always does the deserving person receive the reward: it is not always that the fastest win the race, nor the strongest win in war, or the wisest those who live best, or the clever who become rich, nor the intelligent who gain recognition. We are all as if at the mercy of "time and chance." One does not know even his "hour," that is, the right time, nor does one know the "wrong time." There is nothing left but to seize the joy that life offers and to see in this a gift of God.