Daily Reflection
September 26th, 2008

Pat Borchers

Academic Affairs
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I doubt that anyone of my generation can listen to the reading from Ecclesiates without hearing the famous song "Turn, Turn, Turn" by Pete Seeger of the Byrds. On the off chance that you aren't familiar with it, this link will take you to the lyrics and a cut of the song: http://www.lyricsfreak.com/b/byrds/turn+turn+turn_20026419.html

Seeger drew the lyrics from Ecclesiates, though he used the King James Bible so the phrasing is a little different from our reading today. But he seemed to get stuck on something that used to bother me about the reading. On a casual inspection, the reading seems to place some good things (peace, healing, love) in equipoise with some bad things (war, killing, hate). Seeger solved that problem by adding a non-Biblical coda where he concluded: "a time for peace, I swear it's not too late." With that, the song became a sort of peace anthem and I can recall regularly singing it at the Newman Center (St. Paul's) in Madison, Wisconsin in the late 1960's and early 1970's as I was growing up.

But does God really balance off war and peace, love and hate and killing and healing as if he were indifferent to which one has the upper hand? It doesn't seem to me to be a satisfactory response to the situation in Darfur to shrug one's shoulders and say: "Well, I guess that's what the Bible means about a time for war, hate and killing."

The key to solving the riddle lies in the last sentence of the reading where our human inability to fully know God's ways is referenced. We all do bad things, we all endure bad things, we all witness bad things. Why does God have this happen? The answer surely lies in the Fall and original sin, but that doesn't mean that God doesn't love us. We are all human with our myriad shortcoming and God knows this. But as humans, Catholics and Christians, our duty is to try to respond virtuously to sin whether it be our own or the sins of others. In that way we can live out the redeeming grace of Jesus. We won't ever be perfect but hopefully we can earn an "A" for effort.

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