I vividly remember the first guitar Mass in the late 1960’s and the one song I loved: “Turn, Turn, Turn,” by the Byrds. How I loved that song, not realizing that it’s words came directly from today’s first reading from the Book of Ecclesiastes. Yes, there is a time for everything under the heavens, “a time to be born, a time to die, a time to gather, a time to scatter, a time to build up, a time to break down...” I’m humming to those words as I write this reflection.
The author of this beautiful book of the Old Testament also began to wonder why we have to work so hard at life, when it all seems so futile and pointless. Do all our efforts really matter, if in the end, we die and nothing seems to really change. Many live with this viewpoint today: elections are useless because politicians are all corrupt; why follow religion when it’s leaders and people don’t practice what they preach; why bring children into a world that is evil at its core; if no good deed goes unpunished (Wicked), why bothering doing good?
And so we retreat in our comfortable cocoons and bubbles and erect emotional walls so we don’t get hurt.
Except we hurt ourselves by suffocating in hopelessness and futility. Yes, there IS a place for everything under the sun. Yes, this life IS temporary. Yes, we agonize over all the sufferings in the world, trying desperately to find God within these sufferings.
What is missing when we surrender to hopelessness is a perspective that comes with FAITH, a gift that only God gives but we must accept. We don’t always accept beautiful gifts, especially when they call us to TRUST.
Faith assured us that this life is more than what we see or experience; that our lives have meaning and purpose; that God is most deeply experienced WITHIN suffering; that religion and prayer are not insurances to protect from suffering but a means to experience God and rise forth into new life. Faith gives birth to LOVE, a love that will never be vanquished or defeated.
The song “Turn, Turn,Turn,” naturally leads to another song, “All You Need Is Love.” To end on the Beatles is to end on a high note.