THE SERVANT GENERAL
OUR THEME FOR 2013
AN APPOINTED TIME FOR EVERYTHING
Today’s reading: Ecclesiastes 3:1-11
Today’s reading from Ecclesiastes is a very familiar
passage. It has even been celebrated in song (Pete Seeger’s
“Turn! Turn! Turn!”). For most people, the passage
highlights contrasts. Either one thing is happening or the
other. For me, “I have considered the task which God
has appointed for men to be busied about.” (Eccl 3:10),
and I can see that rather than just either-or events,
we as Christians can look to both-and events.
these times relate to our life in Christ and to the work of
the New Evangelization.
A time to be born, and a time to die (Eccl 3:2a).
Jesus was born in order to die. We in turn die to self in
order to be born again in Christ. Ultimately for us, to die
will be to be born into eternal life. “For to me life
is Christ, and death is gain.” (Phil 1:21).
A time to plant, and a time to uproot the plant (Eccl
3:2b). We plant the good seed in our lives and in the lives
of others, while uprooting everything that is not of God.
“Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted
will be uprooted.” (Mt 15:13).
A time to kill, and a time to heal (Eccl 3:3a). We
put to death what is not of God in our lives, in order that
we might receive the fullness of healing, of being made whole,
of being integral in Christ. “Put to death, then, the
parts of you that are earthly: immorality, impurity, passion,
evil desire, and the greed that is idolatry. .... and put
on the new self, which is being renewed, for knowledge, in
the image of its creator.” (Col 3:5,10).
A time to tear down, and a time to build (Eccl 3:3b).
We tear down the strongholds of the enemy and build the kingdom
of God. “This day I set you over nations and over kingdoms,
to root up and to tear down, to destroy and to demolish, to
build and to plant.” (Jer 1:10).
A time to weep, and a time to laugh (Eccl 3:4a).
As we receive the grace of repentance and forgiveness, we
weep but out of joy. With our tears are washed away the impurities,
leaving us with wide smiles and laughter for our transformation.
“Blessed are you who are now weeping, for you will laugh.”
(Lk 6:21b). We also weep at the situation of a world steeped
in sin, while rejoicing in being given the privilege to proclaim
the gospel to such a world. When we do evangelize, we will
be afflicted by the enemy, for which we can rejoice for the
privilege. “Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction”
(Rom 12:12a). Finally, as a people of God, we share our lives
with one another. “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep
with those who weep.” (Rom 12:15).
A time to mourn, and a time to dance (Eccl 3:4b).
We mourn over continued sin in our lives and in the life of
the world, as we dance for joy for the gift of forgiveness
and the work of evangelization. “Begin to lament, to
mourn, to weep. Let your laughter be turned into mourning
and your joy into dejection.” (Jas 4:9). As we do so,
as we turn to God, God will act, as He did for Esther and
the Jews, as the situation “was turned for them from
sorrow into joy, from mourning into festivity.” (Est
A time to scatter stones, and a time to gather them
(Eccl 3:5a). God says, “See, I am laying a stone in
Zion, a stone that has been tested, a precious cornerstone
as a sure foundation” (Is 28:16a). Jesus is the cornerstone
and we are the stones that make up the edifice. We scatter
into the whole world to proclaim Christ and gather together
as one people of God, as one Church. Thus, “like living
stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house”
(1 Pt 2:5a).
A time to embrace, and a time to be far from embraces
(Eccl 3:5b). Our homes, our communities and our parishes are
havens where we enjoy the embrace of loved ones and brethren.
Paul ended his letters with the instruction to give brethren
a holy embrace or kiss (Rom 16:16; 1 Cor 16:20; 2 Cor 13:12;
1 Thes 5:26; 1 Pt 5:14). But we do not become too comfortable
and complacent, as we also go forth for mission in the world,
far from embraces. When Paul gave his farewell to the brethren
at Miletus to go on with his mission, “they threw their
arms around Paul and kissed him” (Acts 20:37b).
A time to seek, and a time to lose (Eccl 3;6a). We
seek Jesus and we lose ourselves for his sake. We seek the
kingdom and we lose the darkened world in which we lived.
We give up our lives for Jesus and receive his very life in
return. “Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose
it, but whoever loses it will save it.” (Lk 17:33).
A time to keep, and a time to cast away (Eccl 3:6b).
In our lives we keep everything that is right and just and
true, while casting away what is wrong, unjust and false.
“Do not be conquered by evil but conquer evil with good.”
A time to rend, and a time to sew (Eccl 3:7a). We
rend our hearts (Jl 2:13a) and tear ourselves off from a sinful
world, as we sew together and put on a garment of righteousness.
A time to be silent, and a time to speak (Eccl 3:7b).
In the work of witnessing to Jesus, we do so both silently
and verbally, both by the silent witness of our lives and
by the spoken witness of our mouths. Further, our every day
is spent in silence before Jesus as we pray and seek guidance,
and in speaking his word to others as we proclaim the good
news of salvation in him. Every Christian must become an evangelizer.
“I tell you, if they keep silent, the stones will cry
out!” (Lk 19:40).
A time to love, and a time to hate (Eccl 3:8a). We
love what is good and we hate what is evil. We hate the sin
but love the sinner. “Let love be sincere; hate what
is evil” (Rom 12:9a).
A time of war, and a time of peace (Eccl 3:8b). We
are engaged in a spiritual war, even as we are waging peace
in the world. As our struggle is against the evil spirits
in the heavens (Eph 6:12), we put on the armor of God, with
our “feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace.”
(Eph 6:15). This war is also within us, as we wage war on
the flesh, thus attaining the peace of Christ within us.
“There is an appointed time for everything, and a time
for every affair under the heavens.” (Eccl 3:1). We
do not just live in this world with an aimless existence.
Rather, we are people of God who have a mission in this life.
God “has made everything appropriate to its time”
(Eccl 3:11a), and our part is to discern what is proper at
what time, and then go and do what God intends for us.
“has put the timeless into (our) hearts” (Eccl
3:11b), as we are His creatures made in His image and likeness,
and called to imitate Jesus His Son and our Lord. We have
finite existence, but the infinite is within us. We are destined
to live eternally with God in heaven.
may be that like everyone else, we will live our lives “without
men’s ever discovering, from beginning to end, the work
which God has done.” (Eccl 3:11c). After all, God is
the Almighty whose works are mysterious. We will never fully
appreciate what God has done for us--with creation, with salvation
in Jesus, with empowerment by the Holy Spirit. But God does
reveal Himself to us. We do have an inkling of who He is and
what He is about in the world.
is good enough for us. The full revelation of God will be
in heaven. Now, while on earth, we simply have faith and trust
fully in Him. We BE.LI.EV.E, and go forth
and do His work.