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32nd Sunday of Ordinary of Year A

God-given Wisdom

32nd Sunday of Ordinary of Year A

Wis. 6:12-16, 1 Thess. 4:13-18, Mt. 25:1-13 

As the church year begins to draw to a close, the liturgy appropriately draws us to two basic spiritual realities: wisdom and the kingdom of God.  This weekend, we are invited to seek wisdom and to be vigilant with the light of faith and the oil of charity.

Wisdom is one of the themes of the Bible and it is easy to see why. Without wisdom, we are like travelers in the dark. With wisdom we have a bright lamp for our steps. Through wisdom God communicates to us the meaning of life and the grandeur of our destiny. Wisdom is not a college degree, nor does it require us to read books or memorize things.  Rather, it is a capacity to live well and to make good decisions about things. Unlike knowledge, which is acquired through hard work, wisdom is a gift of God and is found by those who seek it.  And to meet someone who has gleaned wisdom along the path of life is a great joy and a great inspiration.

Our first reading today sings the praise of wisdom and says that it can be found by those who seek it diligently. For Israel, wisdom meant an effective knowledge of God and a right relationship with God. Solomon sought for wisdom before he ascended to the throne.  We see this wisdom and vigilance exemplified in the five wise bridesmaids in the Gospel parable. This is not about good and evil. It is about being ready, being alert. It is about our covenant with God. The virgins are all invited to the celebration. They are not the good and the bad, but some have more wisdom. They came prepared. The foolish simply did not think ahead and prepare for the eventuality of the bridegroom coming late.  At the end of parable, the words of Jesus summarize for us one of the lessons we can learn from the parable; “Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour”. Having lamps lit and staying awake is important. The time will come when we will be asked to give an account of the way we have lived. We must always be prepared.

Being vigilant means attending to the challenges of daily living with faith and hope. And to live in faith and hope, is to have that extra oil with us. It means that we are to persevere in living according to the teachings and examples of Jesus -- no matter what.  This vigilance should be continuous and untiring, because the devil is always after us, prowling around “like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (I Pet 5:8). Then, when Jesus suddenly comes as Judge, we will be ready to face Him and thus enter into His feast, His Kingdom. The message of the Gospel is simple: if we do what we have to do conscientiously, we have no reason to fear the unexpected coming of Christ.

Finally, the refusal of the wise virgins to share may appear selfish. We would even expect some kind of judgement against them. Instead, they are invited into the wedding feast while the others are left outside.  There are certain things we cannot borrow from others which is the point of the wise virgins not lending any oil. We cannot borrow someone’s faith, someone else’s grace, someone else’s spirituality. We are responsible before God for our own spiritual condition, what we have done with the oil given us at our Baptism, at our Confirmation and at our Ordination. We can blame the world for many things but not for the state of our soul. This is up to us. We can learn from one another, be inspired by one another, but in the last analysis we shape our own destiny. Character cannot be transferred or borrowed. We must build it for ourselves. Let God-given wisdom give us the urgency we need each, and every day to nurture those things that will sustain us into eternal life.

 

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