Our first reading today is from a very different kind of Bible book. Its cynical tone seems to tell us that since nothing lasts we might just as well give up. Still, we find real value in its rhythmical repetitions.
There is an appointed time for everything. A time to weep, and a time to laugh. A time to mourn, and a time to dance. A time to scatter stones, and a time to gather them. A time to kiss, and a time when the kissing has to stop.
That Bible book was supposedly written by a man named Qoheleth. He departed from the Old Testament’s belief that goodness will be rewarded with a long, long life. No, he tells us. Face the facts, nothing lasts.
But, finally, his cynicism does give way to a belief in the everlasting. He says, “He has put everything appropriate to its time, and has put the timeless in our hearts.”
There is real meaning in that last part. “He has put the timeless in our hearts.” I once heard that it is an axiom in Psychology that it is impossible for us to embrace the thought that we will altogether cease to exist. God has put the timeless into our hearts. The Persian poet Omar Khayyam was just as cynical as Qooleth. He tells us that since youthful pleasures can’t last we should grab them while they are available. But, ruefully he admits he might be wrong about that. His verse goes: “Some for the pleasures of the world, and some sigh for the Prophet’s Paradise to come. Ah, take the cash, and let the credit go; nor heed the rumble of that distant drum.”
That distant drum is the timeless God puts in our hearts. Our faith tells us that by heeding it, we grasp unending happiness.