Day 149: All Is Vanity

The Book of Ecclesiastes

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Main Themes: 

Ecclesiastes 1:1 The name of this book is rooted in the Greek ekkalein, meaning “to summon out of,” which denotes the ekklesia, or “assembly,” called together by God (which is translated as “CHURCH”). “Ecclesiastes” thus signifies “one who calls together an assembly,” The Hebrew name for this book, Qoheleth, which means “one who gathers,” is translated sometimes as “the Preacher,” calling to mind an orator whose wisdom attracts a crowd. The author identifies himself as “son of David, king in Jerusalem,” and, therefore, Ecclesiastes is implicitly attributed to Solomon.

Ch 1:2 The essential theme of this book is that “all is vanity.” This idea is developed throughout the text in arguing that it is vain (prideful) and futile to pursue wisdom that is not rooted in the fear (i.e., awe and reverence) of God. An excessive concern for the goods and pleasures of earthly life lead to futility. Pride, in fact, is one of the traditional SEVEN DEADLY SINS in which all the other sins are rooted. The Jewish teachers counteracted the flawed propaganda of the Greeks with true wisdom based on the Law and the prophets. (CCC 1784, 1866, 2094, 2514, 2540)

Ch 1:3-11 This poetic passage, rich in imagery, served to communicate the truth in the fact of pagan thought. The Greeks saw the universe as being comprised of four fundamental elements: air, earth, fire, and water. Verse by verse, Qoheleth examines these elements and shows that they never undergo change within themselves. (CCC 156-159, 286)

Ch 1:12-18 Pursuit of truth and wisdom is synonymous with seeking to fulfill God’s will. As one seeks the truth about the Commandments, knowledge of God and his wisdom grows. Nevertheless, it is impossible to know God fully. (CCC 30, 216, 1978, 2813)

Ch 2:1-26 The writer admits to seeking happiness in gluttony, success, material wealth, and sexual license. However, the more he pursued inordinate pleasure, the more morally empty he became. As he turned to difficult forms of vanity, he found himself devoid of wisdom. Death will eventually come to both the wise and the vain. These verses imply that true wisdom and joy are intimately linked to living God’s Commandments. (CCC 30, 305, 1942, 2545)

Psalm 5 St. Augustine taught that the traditional title of this psalm, “For her who receives the inheritance,” refers to the Church herself, whose members are heirs to eternal life in Christ (Enarr. In Ps. 5:CCL 38:1, 2-3).

St. John Paul II pointed out how this psalm of supplication, like so many others in the book, contrasts the person who prays with those who do evil. Because of God’s unwavering love and constant care and assistance, we can turn to him in confidence amid all the turmoil, sin, and temptation that surrounds our daily lives. United to God, the faithful are always secure; through prayer the people of God express their trust in his mercy. It pleases God to shower his blessings upon his people and protect them with his unsurpassable goodness. (Cf. St. John Paul II, General Audience, May 30, 2001)

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)

(*Walking With God: A Journey Through The Bible by Tim Gray and Jeff Cavins)

Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you praise and we thank you. And we do rise early and we pray to you. And we listen to your Word, whether early or midday or whatever random time of the day, Lord God. We allow you to speak your Word to us. Your Word of the story of Solomon building his own home and the Temple being constructed and the Word of the Lord from Ecclesiastes coming face to face with the limits of human living. The limits of human life, the limits of human strength, power, wisdom, work, and memory. With you, Lord God, though, righteousness and goodness and justice endures forever with you, Lord God. Our works endure forever. Without you, we can do nothing. But with you, all things are possible. Help us to do all things with you and for you and for the glory of your name. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”

Dustin's Insights 

1 Kg. 7:

Eccl. 1:

My Study Color Code

Suffering, Martyrdom Places The Church, Sacraments, Divinity Horticultural Imagery People Messianic Kingship Sin, Death, Decay