24 September 2010 Friday of the 25th Week in Ordinary Time
Ecclesiastes 3, 1-11; Psalm 144; Luke 9, 18-22
The first reading is one of the most popular passages in the book of Qoheleth, also known as Ecclesiastes. It tells us that life has a rhythm and everything has a time. Life has its own natural cycles. The movie, The Lion King, calls this, the Circle of Life. We are asked to respect this process. We have to develop patience with our own gradual growth, the rhythm of the Spirit.
The following is taken from Nikos Kazantzakis’ novel, Zorba, the Greek (1946). It is a story of a young intellectual who wanted to escape his scholarly life and followed a happy and boisterous person, Alexis Zorba. It became a film (1964) and then a musical in 1968. It illustrates what I want to say from Ecclesiastes.
“I dressed and went down to the water’s edge. I walked quickly. I was happy, as if I had escaped from a danger or a sin. My indiscreet desire of that morning to pry into and know the future before it was born suddenly appeared to me a sacrilege.
I remembered one morning, when I discovered a cocoon in the bark of a tree, just as the butterfly was making a hole in its case and preparing to come out. I waited a while, but it was too long appearing and I was impatient.
I bent over it and breathed on it to warm it. I warmed it as quickly as I could and the miracle began to happen before my eyes, faster than life. The case opened, the butterfly started slowly crawling out and I shall never forget my horror when I saw how its wings were folded back and crumpled.
The wretched butterfly tried with its whole trembling body to unfold them. Bending over it, I tried to help it with my breath. In vain. It needed to be hatched out patiently and the unfolding of the wings should be a gradual process in the sun.
Now it was too late. My breath had forced the butterfly to appear, all crumpled before its time. It struggled desperately and, a few seconds later, died in the palm of my hand.
That little body is, I do believe, the greatest weight I have on my conscience. For I realize today that it is a mortal sin to violate the great laws of nature. We should not hurry, we should not be impatient, but we should confidently obey the eternal rhythm.
I sat on a rock to absorb this New Year’s thought. Ah, if only that little butterfly could always flutter before me to show me the way.