A Teaching in Preparedness

Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time: Year A

Wisdom 6:12-16
Psalm 63:2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8
1Thessalonians 4:13-18
Matthew 25:1-13

A Teaching in Preparedness

During the summer months the people of Florida have hear much about Hurricane Preparedness. They pay special attention to the news as storms circulate in the tropics from June through November. Much attention and energy is placed on being ready for a possible storm. Many people are seen preparing the structures of their homes so that they will be kept safe in case a storm comes as they depart for the northern states. Florida stores witness countless numbers of people buying flashlights and other supplies in case a hurricane hits. Such supplies are vital in the event of such a hurricane. Here we are nearly at the end of the hurricane season and we are already witnessing our welcomed seasonal residents returning, removing the shutters from their homes and settling into normality in Florida living. However, as soon as we depart from thoughts of hurricanes, we are already beginning to prepare for the holiday season. It seems as if we are always preparing for something!

If Jesus were to come today, he would probably use such an image as demonstrated above to illustrate the importance of being prepared to enter the reign of God. In today’s gospel we hear about the ten virgins preparing to meet the bridegroom. A wedding would be a week long affair in Jesus’ time – there was no mention of a honeymoon in those days. To celebrate a whole week long meant that people would have to possess enough supplies to welcome the bridegroom and celebrate the wedding feast. We are told five virgins were prepared and therefore wise, the other five were not.

The parable today is a simple reminder to us that we have to be prepared to meet the Lord when he comes to take us from this life into the next. When someone is told that they have a terminal illness, most of the time, they will start to take care of unfinished business. Tenuous relationships are often confronted and reconciled and people have the opportunity to say goodbye. The terminally ill person often seeks to be reconciled to go and meet God when they die. In such cases the people have an idea that preparations need to be attended to. However, it is not like this for most. The reality is that most of us do not know the day or the hour when God will come to take us. This is why we always need to be prepared for such a journey.

The supply of oil in today’s parable represents the resources that Jesus has given us in his proclamation of the kingdom of heaven. We are given a clear indication of how we can be prepared to meet God in the message that Jesus proclaims. At the beginning of Jesus’ mission, he calls humanity to repent and believe in the good news for the kingdom of God is near at hand! He shows us how this is to be lived out by refusing to be mastered by sin and opening ourselves to the healing presence that He had intended to impart on a waiting world. Jesus opens us to right relationship with ourselves, God, and neighbor. We are challenged to live a life of justice in which every day matters in which we can make a difference. It is how we make choices individually and how we try and live the truth of the gospel that will ultimately prepare us to meet God face to face one day. We simply have to live each day as if it were our last day and take care of any unfinished business.

Prayer

O God of second chances, we praise You and thank you for the promise of Your kingdom. Help us to understand and live your truth so that we will be prepared to meet you face to face. May we learn to let go of what is not essential and to embrace what is essential in order to be ready to meet You when You come. Amen.

Questions

What effort do you put into your faith?
How is God asking you to prepare for his presence in your family?
Are you prepared to meet God face to face? Why/why not?
If you were told that you had a short time to live, how would that change your life?
Would you consider changing those things now?
How do you use your resources to welcome God in the world today?
What is the gospel challenging you to do?

Wisdom of the Fathers

“Men and women today are clearly aware that, more than ever before, they are called to fashion their own destiny in this world. The means to do so are increasingly available: a better understanding of the earth and its secrets; a better understanding of the movement of history and social organization; and the world of communications, which gives more and more people an opportunity to share in modern progress. A more humane world is struggling to be born.

And yet, at every turn the highest hopes are accompanied by disturbing contradictions. As regards respect for fundamental human rights, the last decades have witnessed much progress and a growing awareness of the rightness of this cause. We cannot, however, overlook the fact that our world still offers too many examples of radical injustice and oppression.”

St. John Paul II, Adelaide, Australia, November 30th, 1986

image: St. John Paul II blesses patients suffering from AIDS and leprosy during his visit to the Sanctuary of St. Lazarus in El Rincon, Cuba, January 24, 1998. Thousands of pilgrims flock there every December 17 on the feast of St. Lazarus to pray for the sick. (Catholic News Serrvice photo/Arturo Mari, L’Osservatore Romano)

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