Today’s readings … Deuteronomy 5, Ecclesiastes 1, John 17&18
Today we began reading Ecclesiastes written by “the preacher, the son of David, king of Jerusalem [1 v.1]. His first words are, “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity” What does vanity mean? The lexicon says the Hebrew word means, transitory, emptiness. Solomon is reviewing, apparently in his old age, all that he has accomplished in his life and is overwhelmed by a sense of feeling that in the end it was just “vanity” – that it was centred on the here and now.
He laments, “all things are full of weariness” [v.8] and “my heart has had great experience of wisdom and knowledge” [v.16] but “in much wisdom is much vexation” [v.14]. We will read tomorrow his words, “then I considered all that my hands had done and all the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity” [2 v.11]
We wonder to what extent those who today fill much of their ‘spare’ time with tweeting and twittering and relaxation with TV and DVD entertainment reflect on the ultimate emptiness of it all? In contrast we saw today in John’s Gospel the intensity of thought and meaning in the prayer of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. As it reaches its climax his mind is centred on his disciples, “Holy Father keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.” [17 v.11] Unity of mind, how wonderful, how strengthening!
He continues, “they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth” [v. 17-19]. God’s word is “truth,” it alone reveals the ultimate meaning of life to us. Sanctify means to “be set apart” from the world having our minds focussed on God and his ways and what is really true – in an everlasting sense. It is a truth we must take into our hearts and believe.
Finally, how meaningful are the words of Jesus to Pilate, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world – to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice” [18 v.37]. Let us read and “listen” to what we read and aim to fully possess “the wisdom from above” (James 3 v.17) and make sure we are “sanctified in truth.”