September 22, 2022 –
Thursday of the 25th Week in Ordinary Time
Nothing is new under the sun.
In our First Reading today, we continue to hear from the Wisdom Literature of the Old Testament. But we are not still hearing from the Book of Proverbs. We hear today through Saturday from the Book of Ecclesiastes.
Ecclesiastes is probably best known for its opening verses, from the very first chapter, from which we have heard today. The writer of this book, who is named Qoheleth, is talking about the uselessness, or vanity, of things in this world. We hear: “Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth, vanity of vanities! All things are vanity!” We might wonder why God would want a book like this in the Bible.
This book is not Manichaean in nature. That is, it’s not arguing that life itself, or creation in general, is evil. We can profitably focus upon this book by focusing upon the meaning of the word “vanity”. Not all vanity comes from looking in a mirror.
Here is the question that all seven books of the Wisdom Literature of the Old Testament concerns themselves with: which things can help us get to Heaven, and which things cannot? The things in this world that cannot help us get to Heaven are vain: they are vanities. They may have some meaning and value, but in the end, that meaning or value is going to pass away. The more we hold on to them, the more of our own self that will pass away.