FOOLISH OR WISE?
SUNDAY, THIRTY SECOND WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
Reading 1: Wis 6:12-16 The reading sings the praise of wisdom. At the same time, it says that wisdom can be found by all those who seek it.
Reading 2: 1 Thes 4:13-18 St Paul consoles his converts at Thessalonika who are worried about the fate of their loved ones who have died. He tells them that God will raise them up as surely as he raised up Christ.
Gospel: Mt 25:1-13 A story which urges us to stay awake because we do not know the day or the hour of the Lord’s coming.
The wise man knows that wisdom is a pure gift of God, and humbly pleads for it from God. The first reading instructs us to rise early to seek wisdom in prayer, to fix our thoughts on desiring her, and we will be sure to meet her on our paths and in our thoughts. Seeking her is an important part to possessing her. In the psalm, David seeks God as his true wisdom saying, “My soul is longing and yearning for you.” God alone can satisfy the longing and yearning of the soul, for in God alone is our soul at rest. In the gospel we meet Jesus as the Bridegroom of the Church, his beloved. As part of the Church we may find ourselves among the foolish or the wise! The foolish maidens appear to us as forgetful, lacking in foresight, and senseless. They remind us of that other man Jesus spoke about, who built his house on sand, not putting into practice the words of Jesus. Wisdom invites us to found our life on God, whereas the foolish are short-sighted and base their entire lives on their human qualities.
Jesus also warns us that, as frail humans, we are in danger of falling asleep and forgetting our duty. The image of sleep is striking. Think of it. We could sleep through our whole Christian life instead of living it, without even knowing. As we wait for God whose coming is delayed, we tend to get tired; then follows tepidity, routine and drowsiness. So it is that we could easily miss that all-important moment of an encounter with God. Actually, the only moment that really matters to us is this moment of God-encounter, the moment he chooses to come to meet us. But we do not know that hour. And that brings us to the core message of this parable. We are called by Jesus to wait and watch – in alertness and readiness. In the parable we find both, the wise and foolish maidens, asleep at the Lord’s approach. God does not seem to be surprised by this, knowing well what we are made of. The emphasis of the parable however, is on having our lamps lit. What does it mean to have our lamps lit, and being alert and ready for action? It just means that we have to be found with the light of duty burning. Each one of us is called to a certain task, a certain mission at every point of our life. This is our oil for the moment, whether it is patiently comforting a bawling toddler, or serenely washing a bucketful of soiled clothes, whether it is working on a company project in all honesty or even engaging in relaxation and entertainment without compromising on morals. It could also be bearing with an unpleasant situation at home or work, or being plain nice towards someone who has caused us harm. Keeping our lamps lit is preparing our hearts by being charitable in our thoughts, words and deeds. For, wisdom enters through love.
The ten virgins all appear the same at the time of sleep; one cannot differentiate between the wise and the foolish. It is only when they hear the Master approaching, that they are all exposed for what they truly are. This reminds us that we should be careful of falling in the trap of judging others around us. While on earth, nothing is sure, and we are called to simply love each other, without seeking to know where each one actually stands before God. “It is the greater wisdom to know how to be silent and to look at neither the remarks, nor the deeds, nor the lives of others” says St John of the Cross. Let us make a conscious effort therefore, to fill our lamps with oil. Let us keep waiting and watching with joy and anticipation. The judgment pronounced by God on the maidens, in a way, expresses what they merited by their own behaviour. What judgement does my behaviour merit?
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 63:2-8 For you my soul is thirsting, O Lord, my God.
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