There are two passages we need to read before we understand this reflection and they are Ecclesiastes 1:1-10 and Colossians 1:15.
These two passages were read and in them we have first the question and then the answer. Or we have a background and then a focus, or we have a lock and then the key. The OT passage gives us the problem, the NT passages gives us the solution.
Let’s look at the big question. In Eccl. we read of a reality that is bigger than us, we see a universe that moves along like a bulldozer, steady and unhindered. It never blinks an eye when a human being dies, it does not weep and cry at the misery of human life. The sun turns, the wind blows and the rivers run. All according to a prescribed course.
It remind me of the moment when my mother died and all traffic kept going, all commerce kept trading, all people kept walking, no one stopped to acknowledge my sorrow and loss.
I felt like stepping into the traffic and cry “STOP!” This is how Eccl. sees the universe, distant, foreign, uncontrollable, and uninvolved. But Eccl. also sees the fleeting existence of human life itself. We are here today, gone tomorrow; we are but grass that is fresh and green in the morning but then withers and is cut down in the evening; we are like a flower of the field, beautiful and blooming and then gone and not remembered.
Life is fleeting, we are but a puff of smoke, a breath of air, a gust of wind. These pictures make us feel uncomfortable and scared, they remind us of our tiny, miniscule life.
It creates the feeling of threat and danger and our fear of death is part of that. And so, the rest of Ecclesiastics tells us how we try to control the world around us, how we attempt to disguise life and death, or how we fill our life with pleasure and fun hoping to forget reality. Much of life consists of fighting off the angst which is waiting at the exit of life. We think work is the key, we think education is the key, and we think philosophy is the key.
And into this mess comes the second reading. Paul’s message is that there is meaning in this universe, there is a key for the lock, a solution to the problem.
A focus in the blurry background: The Person of Jesus Christ. He is the originator of it all; He is the creator, and He is the upholder of the universe and in Him all things find meaning. The anxiety of Eccl. is resolved in the person of Jesus Christ. Fear and Angst flee in His presence. Death has no answer for His resurrection.
Yes, many things still are a mystery, but the core of life has become solid and sure because Jesus Christ lives there. I recommend Him to you because He is the only One that is the key to the Lock of Life. It is a wild universe, but In Jesus Christ we can calm our hearts.
By Helmar Heckel, the Chaplain at Good Samaritan in Waconia.