FEASTING ON THE WORD
"If you meditate on the Scriptures it will appear to you in its brilliant splendor." ―St. Pio of Pietrelcina
Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
Wisdom 6:12-16 | Psalm 63:2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8 | 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 | Matthew 25:1-13
At over 828 meters (2,716.5 feet) and more than 160 stories, Burj Khalifa in Dubai is the tallest building in the world. It is home to the world’s fastest elevator that travels at 40 miles per hour. It also hosts the world’s highest outdoor observation deck (on the 124th floor) and the world’s
highest swimming pool (on the 76th floor). But the secret to the stability of this massive building is found underground. Before construction began to rise up, workers spent a year digging and pouring the massive foundation that supports the building. The foundation contains some 58,900 cubic yards of concrete weighing more than 110,000 tons. The building is safe because the foundation is solid. Godly and righteous living is important as a matter of obedience, but there are also many wonderful benefits that follow as a result. When we live according to God’s principles of wisdom, we receive His blessing, but we also establish a firm foundation for our lives and our families.
Today’s reading is part of an exhortation to seek wisdom. The very act of searching for wisdom makes a person already wise, because it testifies that he or she understands that serious reflection on life’s true purpose and meaning is necessary. True wisdom consists in appreciating that there are things greater than ourselves, and in respectfully and humbly submitting to that majesty of God. It is by building our lives on the rock of the wisdom of God. By opening our hearts and minds to God in this way, we open ourselves to his divine wisdom, which Pope Francis explains, is “the grace of being able to see everything with the eyes of God...to see the world, to see situations, circumstances, problems, everything through God’s eyes."
Katie, a bright young girl of ten was suddenly cast upon a bed of suffering, completely paralyzed on one side and nearly blind due to brain cancer. She heard the oncologist say to her parents as they stood by the bedside: “She has seen her best days, poor child!” “No, doctor,” she exclaimed, “my best days are yet to come, when I shall see Jesus in His beauty!”
Last Monday we celebrated the Feast of All Souls. A day when we remember those we love who have gone before. Yet, that remembrance also invites us to think about the realities of death and resurrection. In the second reading Paul gets to the heart of a problem worrying the Thessalonians. Due to Paul’s preaching, they were convinced that Jesus would soon return. That was fine with them, but some of the Christians had died. What would happen to them? For Paul, hope means the assurance that God will raise all those who have died. Christians can be certain that there is a common and glorious future that awaits them all. He admonishes them not to grieve like those who have no hope. Christ rose from the dead to give us a pledge of our own rising. That is our hope. We shall not sink into annihilation.
Dennis left Upper Military Cutoff Road, Baguio City for a vacation in Cebu City. His wife was on a business trip and was planning to meet him there the next day. When he reached his hotel, he decided to send his wife a quick E-mail message. Unable to find the piece of paper on which he had written her E-mail address, he did his best to type it from memory. Unfortunately, he missed one letter in the E-mail address and his note was directed instead to an elderly first lady, whose late husband president had passed away 31 years ago. When the widow checked her E-mail, she took one look at the computer monitor and let out a scream; and fell to the floor in a dead faint. At the sound, her family rushed into the room and saw this note on the screen: Dearest Wife, I have been here for a long time now. Everything prepared for your arrival tomorrow. P.S. Sure is hot down here!
Today’s parable narrates the story of ten bridesmaids, five “foolish” and five “wise” expecting a groom for a wedding that is about to take place. They waited patiently. Some even napped while waiting. Half of the bridesmaids came prepared with enough oil for their lamps to last the night. The other half came with no oil for their lamps. In the end, the foolish bridesmaids were shut out and excluded from the wedding feast. The parable is not about wedding customs, nor about people who habitually arrive late for Mass. It’s about the return of Jesus when, “he will come to judge the living and the dead,” as the Apostles’ Creed states. The Gospel parable calls for being watchful and always prepared. The bridegroom is Jesus. The virgins are Christians waiting for the return of Jesus. Since they know neither the day nor the hour, the wise represent Christians who are always ready to meet Jesus, the bridegroom, and enter eternal life with him. The foolish virgins represent Christians who have not sufficiently prepared for the wedding banquet — a symbol of eternal life. If the lamp represents faith, then the oil represents works. James 2:20 says, “faith without works is useless.” A lamp without oil is useless, too. We are called to be responsible by making adequate preparations for that encounter which awaits each one of us. If we live our Christian vocation well, by following Christ diligently, and by living in imitation of him, we can be sure that our preparation for this meeting is going well, and we will not be found without oil in our lamps when we are summoned. Every time we say the Our Father, we pray, “Thy kingdom come.” We know that one day we will each face judgment. As Christians we are called to embrace a difficult but basic truth of life that we are pilgrims on this earth and our time here is limited. Knowing this and taking it seriously we will look at life with full realization that every day and hour brings us closer to its end. The question remains for us to ask ourselves, Are we ready to receive Jesus? Will we be prepared to receive him? <enrique.ofs>
Jeff Jacinto, PhD, DHum