Ecclesiastes pulls no punches – and it seems very true that there is nothing new under the sun. Oppression was a problem 2500 years ago in the writer’s time, as it is in ours. And his frustration – “better not to be born” – is a cry of anguish far too common in our world. We are called to work together so that no one suffers such oppression that they would wish they had never been born.
4:1 Again I looked and saw all the oppression that was taking place under the sun:
I saw the tears of the oppressed—
and they have no comforter;
power was on the side of their oppressors—
and they have no comforter.
2 And I declared that the dead,
who had already died,
are happier than the living,
who are still alive.
3 But better than both
is the one who has never been born,
who has not seen the evil
that is done under the sun.
4 And I saw that all toil and all achievement spring from one person’s envy of another. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
5 Fools fold their hands
and ruin themselves.
6 Better one handful with tranquillity
than two handfuls with toil
and chasing after the wind.
Father, you have given all peoples one common origin.
It is your will that they be gathered together
as one family in yourself.
Fill the hearts of mankind with the fire of your love
and with the desire to ensure justice for all.
By sharing the good things you give us,
may we secure an equality for all
our brothers and sisters throughout the world.
May there be an end to division, strife and war.
May there be a dawning of a truly human society
built on love and peace.
We ask this in the name of Jesus, our Lord.