Friday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time
(Ecclesiastes 3:1-11; Luke 9:18-22)
In Umberto Eco’s novel The Island of the Day Before the main character is shipwrecked at a point just east of the International Date Line. He sees his salvation in reaching an island that is west of the Date Line, seemingly existing in a previous time. If he can get there, the reader gathers, perhaps he might undo the ills that have caused the shipwreck. But, of course, it is an impossible quest. The island does not exist in a time past. Rather, the “day before” is only part of the time differentiations which humans construct to make sense of the transition of time around the world.
In the well-known passage from Ecclesiastes that we read today, the author Qoheleth speaks of another futile effort involving time. It tells us that no matter how much time or toil we put into the project, human effort cannot achieve salvation because that is in God’s hands. The text admonishes us to follow God’s ways according to the schedule He laid down in the Mosaic Law.
God does not abandon us in our quest for the eternal. Rather, although it was beyond the view of Qoheleth, salvation does come through the Paschal event of Jesus’ death and resurrection. In today’s gospel Jesus recognizes that he is the anointed one to save the world. That is, he is the fulfillment of the timeless hope, noted by Qoheleth, that rests in every human heart.