Here are the well-known words from Ecclesiastes, set for our Old Testament reading today: ‘For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace’.

How might we interpret these words for our own day? In the time of coronavirus? One thought might be that it is a time to build a new civilisation of love. When everything around us is crumbling, then it is precisely the time to put in love, so that we may draw out love, as St John of the Cross said many centuries ago.

St John Paul II said in 2000, to young people: ‘Dear young people of every language and culture, a high and exhilarating task awaits you: that of becoming men and women capable of solidarity, peace and love of life, with respect for everyone. Become craftsmen of a new humanity, where brothers and sisters — members all of the same family — are able at last to live in peace’.

These stirring words can apply to us all, whatever our age. May we truly live them, and may God bless you this day.