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Home » Daily Readings, Old Testament, Wisdom

Time and Eternity

Submitted by on Friday, 26 September 2008No Comment

  • Reading I: Ecclesiastes 3:1-11
  • Resp. Psalm: Psalm 144:1-2,3-4
  • Gospel Reading: Luke 9:18-22

sandsoftime

The selection from Qoheleth is another classic, this time on time. But the "time" described here is qualitative rather than quantitative. The idea of "fulness" behind this description of time also lies behind the phrase "in the fulness of time" (cf. Galatians 4:4). But what is really striking in this selection is the following passage:

He has made everything appropriate to its time,
and has put the timeless into their hearts,
without man’s ever discovering,
from beginning to end, the work which God has done.

Thus, the New American Bible translation used at Mass.  The difficulty in this translation is that it does not render the Hebrew for olam which can mean "for a long time" or as a contrast to eyt (time) in the sense of "no-time".  Thus, my translation:

"He has made everything beautiful in its time,
but has not put a sense of what is timely in their hearts 1, such that
no man would ever discover the timely value2
of what God has done."

hebv

Even if there is a time for love and a time for hate, man does not know it since God did not put a sense of the timeliness of love and hate in his heart.  For this reason too, it can be said that man cannot know fully what the times have in store for him.  My translation concords well with the context of the discourse of Qoheleth who applies the "mystery of time" to human work.  Even here, work turns out to be "vain" since if there is a time for profit, there is also a time for loss, a time for health, a time for sickness.  In other words, even with personal effort,  work cannot guarantee man’s fulfillment.  Thus Qoheleth is led to conclude that only "enjoyment" is to be preferred among the activities of man.

I recognized that there is nothing better than to be glad and to do well during life.  For every man, moreover, to eat and drink and enjoy the fruit of all his labor is a gift of God. (Ecclesiastes 3:12-13)

The experience of time forces Qoheleth to recognize that the celebration of God’s gifts is what matters in this life.

The selection from the Gospel of Luke has nothing to do with the reading from Ecclesiastes.  The first and Gospel readings are following two different tracks and this has become obvious in the day’s selections.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-11
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg LXX Hebrew
1All things have their season, and in their times all things pass under heaven.
2A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted.
3A time to kill, and a time to heal. A time to destroy, and a time to build.
4A time to weep, and a time to laugh. A time to mourn, and a time to dance.
5A time to scatter stones, and a time to gather. A time to embrace, and a time to be far from embraces.
6A time to get, and a time to lose. A time to keep, and a time to cast away.
7A time to rend, and a time to sew. A time to keep silence, and a time to speak.
8A time of love, and a time of hatred. A time of war, and a time of peace.
9What hath man more of his labour?
10I have seen the trouble, which God hath given the sons of men to be exercised in it.
11He hath made all things good in their time, and hath delivered the world to their consideration, so that man cannot find out the work which God hath made from the beginning to the end.
Psalm 144:1-2,3-4
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg LXX Hebrew
1Blessed be the Lord my God, who teacheth my hands to fight, and my fingers to war.
2My mercy, and my refuge: my support, and my deliverer: My protector, and I have hoped in him: who subdueth my people under me.
3Lord, what is man, that thou art made known to him? or the son of man, that thou makest account of him?
4Man is like to vanity: his days pass away like a shadow.
Luke 9:18-22
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg Greek
18And it came to pass, as he was alone praying, his disciples also were with him: and he asked them, saying: Whom do the people say that I am?
19But they answered, and said: John the Baptist; but some say Elias; and others say that one of the former prophets is risen again.
20And he said to them: But whom do you say that I am? Simon Peter answering, said: The Christ of God.
21But he strictly charging them, commanded they should tell this to no man.
22Saying: The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the ancients and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and the third day rise again.
Galatians 4:4
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg Greek
4But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent his Son, made of a woman, made under the law:

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  1. literally, he has put a sense of NO-Time in their hearts []
  2. literally, "from beginning to end" []

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