AUGUST 27. Ord Time B. Wk 21. Fri. Mt 25. 1-13
Jesus told this parable to his disciples: ‘The kingdom of heaven will be like this: Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were sensible: the foolish ones did take their lamps, but they brought no oil, whereas the sensible ones took flasks of oil as well as their lamps. The bridegroom was late, and they all grew drowsy and fell asleep. But at midnight there was a cry, “The bridegroom is here! Go out and meet him.” At this, all those bridesmaids woke up and trimmed their lamps, and the foolish ones said to the sensible ones, “Give us some of your oil: our lamps are going out.” But they replied, “There may not be enough for us and for you; you had better go to those who sell it and buy some for yourselves.” They had gone off to buy it when the bridegroom arrived. Those who were ready went in with him to the wedding hall and the door was closed. The other bridesmaids arrived later. “Lord, Lord,” they said “open the door for us.” But he replied, “I tell you solemnly, I do not know you.” So stay awake, because you do not know either the day or the hour.’
Following on from yesterday’s Gospel, this reading is all about being ready for Christ’s coming, whenever that might be, but while yesterday was focusing on the end of life, I see this reading being more about Christ wanting to have a more intimate relationship with the soul, via the gift of special graces, and whether one is in a state of readiness for such a gift.
The difference is that today Christ is portrayed as the bridegroom; - the lover of the soul and there is a presumption the soul also desires to maintain an intimate relationship with Christ. This type of relationship however is rarely granted to a soul without many years of struggling and searching; - and it is very easy for a person to become tired of waiting for the bridegroom to reciprocate one’s feelings.
The reason for this period of waiting is because it is a necessary period of purification and testing. The soul is expected to demonstrate the love in one’s heart by remaining faithful through many difficulties and trials, the means God uses to test and purify our soul of self-love.
Many souls, during these years abandon the search all together, while others continue to seek the bridegroom, but they also seek consolations in the comforts of the world. Others however do not lose hope, and continue to place their trust in the bridegroom’s love; - and these are the ones described as being “ready” for his return.
It is interesting to note Christ’s description of the two groups, one being prepared and the other not; - he calls those who are not ready “foolish virgins”, while he refers to those who are ready as being “wise virgins” as they persevered in their faith and love despite the bridegroom’s absence. The oil needed for their lamps; - which the foolish virgins lacked; - being divine grace!
There is also a message in the bridegroom returning “at midnight”, indicating it was a time when nobody expected anything to happen, as they were all sleeping, but one of the characteristics of Christ visiting the soul is it often happens when least expected; - and midnight is a time when the soul’s readiness for divine union is best tested.
The wise Christian goes to sleep in a “state” of love and desire for the bridegroom; - with a yearning in the heart; - despite the many trials and sufferings one has had to endure; - whereas the foolish Christians went to sleep with doubts in their heart about the bridegroom’s love; - and they may even have started having doubts about whether he would return at all.
Gospel Acclamation Lk21:36
Be watchful, pray constantly,
that you may be worthy to stand before the Son of Man.
First reading 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8 · What God wants is for you all to be holy
Brothers, we urge you and appeal to you in the Lord Jesus to make more and more progress in the kind of life that you are meant to live: the life that God wants, as you learnt from us, and as you are already living it. You have not forgotten the instructions we gave you on the authority of the Lord Jesus.
What God wants is for you all to be holy. He wants you to keep away from fornication, and each one of you to know how to use the body that belongs to him in a way that is holy and honourable, not giving way to selfish lust like the pagans who do not know God. He wants nobody at all ever to sin by taking advantage of a brother in these matters; the Lord always punishes sins of that sort, as we told you before and assured you. We have been called by God to be holy, not to be immoral; in other words, anyone who objects is not objecting to a human authority, but to God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.
"make more and more progress in the kind of life you are meant to live!"
"What God wants is; - for you to be holy!"
'keep away from fornication; - use the body in a way that is holy and honourable; - not selfish'