The OT Reading bumped by Pentecost: Ecclesiastes 6:1-12
Robert Gordis in his Koheleth—the Man and his World writes “Koheleth sets up the attainment of happiness as the goal of human striving, not merely because he loves life, but because he cannot have justice and wisdom. Joy is the only purpose that he can find in a monotonous and meaningless world, in which all human values, such as wealth, piety, and ability, are vanity, where all men encounter the same fate and no progress is possible.”
Part of this “cannot” is clearly the economic globalization that arrived with the Persian Empire. The relatively predictable links between actions and their consequences—our baseline way of knowing what is to come—eroded with the monarchy, further eroded under the earlier empires, went on life support with the Persians. Progress.
We’re somewhat past the Persians. So we might wonder: is the teacher saying explicitly what we’ve concluded implicitly, that justice and wisdom are impossible?
It happens that this year this reading falls on Trinity Sunday. Perhaps It’s an opportunity to recall that with this God the impossible is as good a starting-point as any.
“When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astounded and said, ‘Then who can be saved?’ But Jesus looked at them and said, ‘For mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are possible’” (Matt. 19:25-26).
So cue up (again) Billie Holiday’s rendition of Sigman & Russell’s “Crazy,” not a bad image of the love of the Holy Trinity for the human race, a love that empowers the final couplet “The difficult I’ll do right now / The impossible will take a little while.” Enjoy.