A Reflection from the Interpath Traditions
by Thomas P. Bonacci, C.P.

March 18, 2023

The Book of Ecclesiastes has some of the most beautiful verses ever composed (see Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8):

For everything there is a season,
and a time for every matter under heaven.

The splendor of these verses dims when one considers the author feels trapped in an endless cycle of mishaps hoping that his suffering will be cut short by an early death. The author is simply exhausted by the suffering and injustice he sees and experiences in the World. He ponders why evildoers prosper, and the innocent suffer unjustly. The Book reminds us of the trials and tribulations of life we would like to forget.

We might be put off by the gloom permeating the pages of this Book of the Bible. We might even wonder how such a sorrowful Book could be considered Scripture. Yet, the answer is rather simple. The Scriptures are not afraid to face in prayer and reflection what we often seek to avoid and deny in life.

Ecclesiastes is a Book of Wisdom reminding us of the importance of engaging our sorrows and heartbreaks. Wise people confront their feelings seeking a sense of direction and purpose. 

It is common to hear people complain that they are going around in circles. Some are overwhelmed by the evil they experience and see in the World.

Wisdom invites us to engage how we feel, confront the issues of life, and avoid denial. The Prophets of the Bible experienced the hypocrisy of the courts and the kings. They rose up in anger. Their anger became the call to justice and integrity.  

The Book of Ecclesiastes provides an incentive to engage our sense of outrage as a rallying call to do the right thing as we stand up for what is right and just. The author of Ecclesiastes refused to be sedated even as his heart broke. The Book offers no solution but sets the stage for others to respond to the problems of the world and life with creativity and courage.

Blessings to you, Holy Community, for engaging the pain and sorrow many endure. You are the First Responders to those whose hearts are broken. You have wisely and courageously responded to others since you know what it is like to struggle in a World that all too often seems to be going around in endless circles.