Sunday Vigil

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Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Whoever lives and believes in me
will never die.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Ecclesiastes 11,9-12,8

Young man, enjoy yourself while you are young, make the most of the days of your youth, follow the prompting and desire of heart and eye, but remember, God will call you to account for everything. Rid your heart of indignation, keep your body clear of suffering, though youth and the age of black hair are both futile. Remember your Creator while you are still young, before the bad days come, before the years come which, you will say, give you no pleasure; before the sun and the light grow dim and the moon and stars, before the clouds return after the rain; the time when your watchmen become shaky, when strong men are bent double, when the women, one by one, quit grinding, and, as they look out of the window, find their sight growing dim. When the street-door is kept shut, when the sound of grinding fades away, when the first cry of a bird wakes you up, when all the singing has stopped; when going uphill is an ordeal and you are frightened at every step you take- yet the almond tree is in flower and the grasshopper is weighed down and the caper-bush loses its tang; while you are on the way to your everlasting home and the mourners are assembling in the street; before the silver thread snaps, or the golden bowl is cracked, or the pitcher shattered at the fountain, or the pulley broken at the well-head: the dust returns to the earth from which it came, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. Sheer futility, Qoheleth says, everything is futile.

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

If you believe, you will see the glory of God,
thus says the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Qohelet concludes this little book, which he addressed to the young, with a meditation on the "seasons of life." He presents youth as the spring and old age as the winter, when the sun will not shine during the day nor the moon and the stars at night; when clear skies will not come after the rain, like spring showers, but more clouds will be there. After the winter of old age there will not be another spring; the sky comes to an end. He compares life to a house, which is at first full of life and joy (the time of youth) but then becomes more and more deserted and ruined. Abandonment and isolation will strike the houses of the rich, where even the guardians grow old and tremble and the masters bend down under the weight of the years. With a series of images, the sacred author describes the decline of the body. The physical forces progressively abandon the old person. And the moment comes when humas leave for the "eternal home." If we put this sad and melancholy song about old age in the largest context of scriptures, we need to understand it not as the experience of failure of existence, as if it were good only in the age of strength. Also in old age we remain children of God. Indeed, in the experience of weakness we can grasp even more strongly the strength of depending only on God and not on our own strength. Old age as the age of dependence must be "honoured," as God's commandment demands. Also because there is a lesson we can all learn from the weakening that gradually becomes more and more evident in old age: it is the lesson that we are all fragile, all dependent: on God and on others. In the same way, death, which brings earthly existence to a close - in its dimension of pain and fear, the fruits of sin - can be understood in the love of God who does not abandon any of his children, especially in moments of weakness. It will be Jesus' resurrection that will show the strength of God's love that does not let his children fall into nothingness.