Saturday 7 November 2020

Sunday, November 8, 2020 - Will the lamp of your life have enough oil to welcome the Lord when he comes?

To read the texts click on the texts: Wis 6:12-16; 1 Thess 4:13-18; Mt 25:1-13

The themes of wisdom and preparedness dominate the readings of today. If the first reading is a description of what wisdom is, where she may be found and the consequences of finding her, the Gospel reading of today narrates in practical terms who the wise person is.

Wisdom according to the first reading of today does not hide herself, but continues to make herself available to all who seek her. One who does indeed find her will act prudently and so be free from all kinds of tensions, worries and lack of preparedness. The wise person will be ready at all times and every time.

The parable of the ten bridesmaids narrates graphically the consequences of acting wisely and foolishly. It has no parallel in the Synoptics and is special to the Gospel of Matthew. We are told right at the beginning of the parable that five of the bridesmaids were foolish and five were wise. This is because we cannot tell this just be looking at them. All ten have come to the wedding; all ten have their lamps burning; all ten presumably have on their gowns. The readiness is what distinguishes the wise from the foolish. Five are ready for the delay and five are not. Five have enough oil for the wedding to start whenever the bridegroom arrives; the foolish ones have only enough oil for their own timetable. The point is not so much falling asleep, but readiness at the hour when one is tested. It is thus, not being called that is important but being tested, not the lamp but the oil, not membership in the church but deeds.

For Matthew, “watching” does not mean that one lives in constant fear of missing the time. Instead, “watching” means following the command of Jesus in such constant, complete, and undivided obedience that it is all right to sleep until the time of the Parousia (the second coming of the Lord), because one is always ready and need not change at the last minute. In short, the uncertain time of the parousia becomes completely immaterial for those who always do the will of the Father. Such a person is not concerned about the delay of the bridegroom. Such a person is not worried about the time of the coming. Such a person even though asleep is still ready.

This readiness is possible because of the promise and example of Jesus as narrated by Paul in the second reading of today. We are sure of victory because Jesus has conquered death once for all. For us as believers, salvation is assured and thus our task is to be concerned not with times and seasons but watchfulness and readiness. If we are so ready, the time and season will not matter because of the promise of the Lord.

The texts of toady are therefore calling us to watchful readiness. No one knows the hour when the Lord will decide to come. Delay can be interpreted to mean that the Lord is allowing us the time to get ready and prepare ourselves for his coming, whenever that may be.

It is easy to be good for a day if goodness is seen only as a means to an end. It is easy to be merciful for a day if mercy is seen only as a means to an end. However, if we see goodness and mercy and everything that is positive as an end in itself, then it is possible to be good and merciful and positive always. We are called then to be like the wise ones with our lamps always burning so that we will then be able to welcome the Lord whenever he comes.

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