Fr Vincent's reflections on the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
In today’s parable Jesus asks us to evaluate if we are “wise” or “foolish” in preparing for the Kingdom of Heaven. If we are putting off our preparation, then we have the answer to the question!
Watch the video: Fr Vincent's reflections on the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Read the text:
32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time 2020
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. R/. Amen.
The Grace and Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. R/. And with your spirit.
On this 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, let us pray:
Almighty and merciful God,
graciously keep from us all adversity,
so that, unhindered in mind and body alike,
we may pursue in freedom of heart
the things that are yours.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. R/. Amen.
As before, if you don’t have your Bible with you, please pause this video to retrieve your Bible so you can follow along. The Gospel today is Matthew 25:1-13.
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew.
Jesus told his disciples this parable:
“The kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins
who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.
Five of them were foolish and five were wise.
The foolish ones, when taking their lamps,
brought no oil with them,
but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps.
Since the bridegroom was long delayed,
they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
At midnight, there was a cry,
‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’
Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps.
The foolish ones said to the wise,
‘Give us some of your oil,
for our lamps are going out.’
But the wise ones replied,
‘No, for there may not be enough for us and you.
Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’
While they went off to buy it,
the bridegroom came
and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him.
Then the door was locked.
Afterwards the other virgins came and said,
‘Lord, Lord, open the door for us!’
But he said in reply,
‘Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.’
Therefore, stay awake,
for you know neither the day nor the hour.”
The Gospel of the Lord. R/. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
We have heard the parable of the wise and foolish “maidens” before. (I use the word “maiden” simply because Jesus’ audience would have heard and focused on the youthfulness of these women and not on their physical condition. In this day and age, the word “virgin” limits our mental focus, even though that is truly the word Jesus would have used.) So, these are young women chosen to meet the Bridegroom when he arrives for the wedding feast.
To answer a question I regularly receive, the five wise were not “cruel” to the five foolish by not sharing their oil. Jesus answers that issue himself in the response of the wise maidens; they would all be lacking if the wise gave away some of their oil. In fact, this is the crux of the parable: we are personally responsible to be ready when the Bridegroom returns and cannot depend on others in that final moment. The wise, actually share the more important truth of the parable, that while waiting for the Bridegroom everyone must prepare themselves.
This parable is so much the story of humanity, and thereby the story of you and me. We know that Jesus is coming, and we know that we must be prepared for when he comes. But we do not know the day nor the hour. So Jesus himself warned us to be prepared at all times. Yet, any of us, each of us, can become complacent and ignore this obligation to be prepared. We make ourselves “not ready” through a lack of attentiveness to our lives and our faith.
Part of the “human condition” is that we do not readily like think about our own end-of-life. Emotionally, this is traumatic, so we delay the contemplation of dying and focus on our earthly life, with eternal life as a far away event. Jesus wants us to see the life to come as an integral part of this existence, and actually, that this life is merely preparation for the real life for which we were created: eternal union with our God.
So, simply put, if you and I focus on this life and doing whatever here and now, even if doing good things, we are foolish because we can be wasting our “oil,” that is, God’s blessings, on things that do not last. But, if we are focused on the life to come and making choices here and now about that life, then we are wise because we are using God’s blessings, even here and now, with anticipation of what we will be receiving when the Bridegroom returns.
These are the real daily choices for each of us: prayer versus social media; charity toward others versus self-serving possessiveness; Christ-like sacrificial love versus loving only for the sake of what I receive in return. We do not always see our choices in the stark reality of wise versus foolish. But this parable is meant to take us there. How am I spending my life each and every day? Because no one will be able to share theirs with me, will I have enough “oil” when Jesus returns? I must take care of myself if I plan to enter into the Wedding Feast of the Bridegroom!
The Lord be with you. R/. And with your spirit.
And may the blessing of almighty God,
the Father, and the Son, ✠ and the Holy Spirit,
come down on you and remain with you for ever. R/. Amen.