[Reflection on The Word] Homily for the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
Wisdom 6:12-16/Psalm 63/ 1 Thess 4:13-18/ Matt. 25:1-13
Theme: Turn His Delay into an Opportunity
As we approach the Feast of Christ the King, it is obvious from the readings that Jesus Christ is the protagonist; the one we await; the King of Kings. It is said that true wisdom comes to us when we realise how little we know about ourselves and the world around us. Therefore, let us search for the true wisdom so that in finding him, we discover our true self.
In the first reading the writer of the book of Wisdom presents to us wisdom personified. He says, “Wisdom is radiant and unfading and she is easily discerned by those who love her” (Wisdom 6:12). This means that wisdom cannot be hidden. It is something that is always evident for all to see. It is always brightening. Thus no one can have any excuse for not finding it. Again, she is readily found by those who earnestly seek her. The only excuse one can give for not finding her is when one does not look for her.
Furthermore, it is not as if when we diligently look for her that by our own effort, we find him. The paradox is that “She hastens to make herself known to those who desire her” (Wisdom 6:13). The prophet Jeremiah reiterates this fact when he says, “When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart, I will let you find me,” says the Lord… (Jeremiah 29:13-14).
The wisdom that makes herself available to us when we search for her is presented to us in the Gospel as Jesus Christ; the bridegroom that we all await; Jesus the wisdom of God. The Gospel writer reiterates the fact that due diligence must be applied by anyone who desires to meet the Lord.
There are many of us following Jesus today, professing our faith in Jesus but our dispositions and attitudes differ. Those virgins who did not bother to take additional oil perhaps presumed that the bridegroom would come at their own convenience. We are called upon to deal seriously with the sin of presumption as we await the universal king. Many will follow Jesus but not all who say Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven but those who do his will.
Just as in the first reading, wisdom walks about looking for those who are worthy of her and graciously shows herself to them. So in the gospel reading, though the maidens were asleep, it was the cry that the bridegroom was passing that woke them up. Indeed, the bridegroom could have passed by them without them knowing. This is to show us that in our search for Jesus, if we are sincere, it does not matter whether we are weighed down by our weaknesses or the anxieties of this life, he will let us find him.
When the bridegroom comes, it is those who are ready who will go with him. How ready are we? When the Lord comes, will he find us ready? How pitiable it will be for us when the door is closed. Being “ready” in today’s Gospel meant for Matthew the performance of good works, but we know that there were other obligations to be fulfilled as well: abstinence from bad behavior (15:19); love of enemies (5:44); love of other Christians (24:12); forgiveness of those who have wronged us (18:21-35); bold faith (21:21); loyalty to Jesus (10:32); and love of God (22:37).
According to the Jewish custom at the time, the oil was made from olive. Perhaps, it is the same oil that is used in celebrating the Sacraments, namely the oil of Chrism and the oil of Catechumen. This means that we must always keep alive what we received during the celebration of the sacraments. How often do we have our lamps with us, but no oil to burn in them? Blessed Teresa of Calcutta spoke about this:
“What are the oil lamps in our lives? They are the little everyday things:
faithfulness, punctuality, kind words, thoughtfulness of another person,
the way we are silent at times, the way we look at things,
the way we speak, the way we act. Those are the little drops of love
which make it possible for our life of faith to shine brightly.”
Earlier in Matthew’s Gospel, in the famous Sermon on Mount, the crowd was urged by Jesus to let their light shine so that people will see their good works and give praise to their Father in heaven (5:16). The “oil” in today’s parable symbolizes good works and deeds. Wise people are vigilant, like the bridesmaids in the Gospel story who brought not only their lamps but also enough oil to last the night.
The point is to turn the delay into our advantage. Had the young girls shared their oil with each other, the outcome of this parable may have been different. However the point of the story is not about equitable distribution of goods, but something deeper. Precisely because the time of the arrival of the bridegroom is uncertain, it is even more necessary that one stand in a state of readiness to welcome him. In other words, Matthew tries to change the very source of the problem: the delay of the end and the return of Christ- into an advantage. The delay itself is meant to sharpen our hope. The delay itself calls us and moves us to greater fidelity, vigilance and love.
The Psalmist gives us an example of one who seeks for the wisdom of God namely Jesus Christ. He longs for it like a dry weary land without water. Even on his bird at night he remembers the Lord. This should be the Christian attitude. Every moment of our life must be to search for the Lord.
In conclusion, our decision to follow the Lord must be backed by action. Our decision must be action oriented namely having the right disposition and attitude towards the king we are awaiting. Some of us are still at the decision stage marking time. Surely he is coming and when he comes will he find us ready?
Source: Rev. Fr. Aaron Agorsor
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