8 November 2020: Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

by FR. Emmanuel, Pastor

“Never Miss Him”

As we all know, on the last Sunday of this month, i.e. Nov. 29, we will start the new liturgical Year with the beginning of Advent.  As we approach the end of the Liturgical year and Advent draws near, the mood of the liturgy becomes eschatological.   Starting today, for three Sundays the holy Mother Church is presenting before us readings related to the second coming of Christ and the glorious judgment that is going to take place.

In chapter 24 of Matthew, the disciples of Jesus begin to question him about the end of the age, when the messiah will come in all his fullness.   “About that day and hour,” Jesus tells them, “no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the son, but only the father.  And then comes those three great parables:  the Parables of the Faithful and Wise Servant, of the Ten Virgins and of the Talents.  This theme of separating the good from the bad, present in these three parables, is continued in the description of a shepherd separating the sheep from the goats (Matt. 25:31-33).  The Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids is found only in the gospel of Matthew (Matthew 25:1-13).

Jesus told us that the Son of Man will come again on the Last Day to judge the living and the dead. How and when that will be, we do not know for sure. How then is the wise Christian to prepare for the end- times? As we heard in today’s parable some might have lamps but not enough oil and in their struggle to buy oil they might miss the coming of the Lord and they may be discarded. 

As all the parables of Jesus, today’s  parable also is a story taken from real life.  Virgins waiting for the coming of the bridegroom, the lamps and oil flasks, the bridegroom coming late in the night, all these look strange to anyone today, especially to the western mind. But everything seems very realistic in the Palestinian background. 

The parable tells us about the people who wait for the coming of the Lord, Jesus Christ.  Some will be successful and they will be received to the banquet.  Some others, unfortunately, though invited, will not enter the joy of the banquet.  The Israelite people who waited for the earthly first coming of Christ were not there to welcome him when he actually came.  To the first Christians who thought that the second coming will be imminent, Matthew is telling them that the return of the Lord may be delayed beyond their expectation and that they should, therefore, prepare for the long wait by providing enough oil for their lamps.

As the parable explains it, five of the virgins were wise. The liturgy combines this reading with a passage from Wisdom which is the conclusion of the first part of the Book of Wisdom. People are looking for Wisdom and at the same time wisdom is searching for them.  One thing we do know: wisdom makes her own rounds, seeking those worthy of her. If we love her and seek her she will come to us: he who watches for her at dawn shall not be disappointed for he shall find her sitting by his gate.” 

True wisdom will teach us to place the one true God ahead of our petty gods of power, possessions, and pleasure? It will inspire us to overcome our own evil desires and actions and the social evils? Everybody values, but only if we have wisdom we will value what is valuable.  Everybody makes choices, but only if we have wisdom we make wise choices?

When the foolish discover that they were wrong and are short on oil, their first thought is just to grab the oil of the wise. The foolish don’t seem to care if the wise suffer in consequence. They are willing to risk the welfare of the wise, provided only that they have a chance of getting something for themselves.

They didn’t realize that they couldn’t borrow everything.  We cannot borrow many things in life.  A thought might come to our mind why were the wise were not ready to share what they had. This is not a parable on sharing.  It is also implied that there are certain things in life that cannot be shared or borrowed from others. We ourselves have to make our life holy, nobody else can make it holy for us.   We have to grow in our faith and nobody is going to help us.  We have to lead a life of prayer and nobody else can do it for us.

Lord Jesus comes to us every day, in our life. In order to welcome Jesus Christ it is not enough to have lamp of faith but we must be prepare with a good life.  Our good deeds will give us sufficient oil to keep the lamp burning.  Jesus Christ comes to us in the Eucharist we celebrate, Sunday after Sunday, in the word of God, and in every one of our brothers and sisters.  Sometimes He comes to us as a stranger, or as a gardener, through situations we never expect, do we recognize him and welcome him into our lives?  Let us pray that we never, never miss him as he comes to us.  

May God bless you!