Prepared and Unscared

Sunday, Oct. 8, 32nd Sunday in Ordinary

•Wis 6:12-16
•Ps 63:2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8
•1 Thes4:13-18 OR 4:13-14
•Mt 25:1-13

If Jesus Christ came to you today to take you home, would you be ready? 

That's the question the Church asks us in the Gospel reading for this Sunday. Christ tells a parable about “ten virgins,” similar to modern day bridesmaids, who were waiting for the groom to arrive so they could begin the celebration. According to ancient Jewish marital custom, before a wedding celebration, the groom would lead a procession with his wife to their new home. The entire village would line the streets to wish the couple well, and then they would all celebrate together for an entire week. 

There's one problem. Though five of the virgins brought flasks of oil with them to burn when the couple arrived, the other five did not. When the bridegroom’s arrival was finally announced, the “foolish” virgins without oil asked the “wise” virgins for some of theirs so they could light their lamps. The wise told them that there wasn’t enough to share. So, while the foolish virgins went off to buy some oil, the bridegroom came, the wedding feast began, and the doors were locked so that when the foolish virgins finally came back, they could not enter. 

Jesus concludes by saying, “Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour" (Mt 25:13). In other words, we don’t know when our lives will come to an end or when Christ will come back again. Therefore, at all times we need to be spiritually prepared for His coming. 

The Ignatian Catholic Study Bible explains the symbolism of Christ’s parable, “The lamp is Christian faith, while the oil represents good works … Souls must prepare for their personal encounter with Christ (bridegroom) by loving God and neighbor … since those lacking good works will be shut out of heaven’s banquet” (Mt 25: 1-3). So, we don't have to fear our death or Christ's coming. We just need to love our neighbor by performing works of mercy and treating others with kindness and compassion. 

This parable teaches us another lesson: we need to take our spiritual health into our own hands. Just as the virgins without oil couldn’t borrow from those who had, we shouldn’t rely solely upon the holiness and good works of others for our salvation. Yes, it's a great blessing that we can benefit from the prayers and good works of holy people. But we shouldn’t, for example, join the Association of Marian Helpers just to rest on our laurels. Christ calls us to conversion, to action — to caring for our own spiritual health and then offering up prayers and sacrifices for others in need. 

In the final passage of her Diary, St. Faustina revealed just how ready she was to meet the Lord. She wrote:

Today, the Majesty of God is surrounding me. There is no way that I can help myself to prepare better. I am thoroughly enwrapped in God. My soul is being inflamed by His love. I only know that I love and am loved. That is enough for me. I am trying my best to be faithful throughout the day to the Holy Spirit and to fulfill His demands. I am trying my best for interior silence in order to be able to hear His voice ... (1828)

Being faithful throughout the day to the voice of the Holy Spirit — that’s the way Christ calls us to live. When we take our focus off of ourselves, striving to minister the Gospel to others through the help of the Holy Spirit, we have nothing to fear. We'll be prepared for whatever Christ has in store for us, until that final day when He takes us home to be with Him for all eternity. 

Photo by Andreas Rønningen on Unsplash

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