Homily for XXXII (32) Sunday Year A. 08-11-2020 by Fr. *Lubem Robert Waya, osj.
First Reading: Wisdom 6:12-16*
Psalm: Psalm 62 (63): 2-8
*Second Reading: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Gospel: Matthew 25:1-13*
The book of proverbs 2:4-6 says “look for wisdom like silver. Search for it like hidden treasure. If you do this, you will understand what it means to respect the Lord, and you will come to know God. The Lord is the source of wisdom; knowledge and understanding come from His mouth.” This truth is reaffirmed in our first reading of today from the book of Wisdom where the author describes with dexterity this wisdom as bright and self-revealing to those who seek it. Then he enjoins us all to be on the alert for her and seek her so that anxiety will quickly flee from us. Wisdom known in Greek as Sofia, is a feminine noun used here as a metaphor to denote the attractive beauty wisdom possesses, which should make each of us to desire and seek to acquire/possess it like a young man wooing a beautiful woman for marriage. However, here we are not reflecting about Wisdom as scientific or philosophical knowledge acquired by study and learning, but we are talking about the true wisdom as a gift flowing from its source, God. This is Wisdom as a reflection of God and the reflection of the eternal light and the image of His power with which He has created the world and all that is in it. In the New Testament, Christ is seen as this Wisdom incarnate of God who is as well the Word of God who embodies all and is in fact the summit of God’s creative purpose. A wise person therefore is the one who seeks Christ, the true wisdom of God. And without this Wisdom of God we cannot walk successfully through life. This is the challenge Christ presents to us in the gospel reading where we have ten virgins waiting for the arrival of the bridegroom. Five are wise and were prepared for the bridegroom while five were foolish and unprepared.
Christ Himself narrates this parable revealing the profound significance of wedding customs in ancient Palestine which required so much vigilance and extra preparation for everyone involved. The custom permitted the groom together with family and friends to come at his discretion to get his bride and bring her to their new home usually through the longest route so that villagers could cheer them and join the wedding procession. If the groom decided to come and bring his bride at night, then lights were required. It was for this that the ten virgins came, though only five were successful. In this case, the procession was led by virgins carrying torches. The bride and groom would come next, followed by members of both their families. Neighbours would stand at their doors cheering the young couple on, wishing them well and sometimes offering small presents. Once the procession got to the groom’s house, they all entered and the doors were barred and the wedding feast began with a lot to wine and dine. The party could last up to seven days and from that point on the couple lived together as husband and wife.
Using this parable, Jesus does not only admonish us to seek the true wisdom to navigate our paths in life, but He also warns us about the dire consequences of being foolish and unprepared. It means we will be barred from entering His kingdom like the foolish virgins who returned late and were barred from entering into the wedding feast. Let us ask ourselves today how prepared we are and where we belong. Are we among the wise virgins who were ready and met the bridegroom or are we among the foolish ones? Can we say we are prepared for the coming of Christ the bridegroom? What if He comes today here and now, will I be ready to meet Him? Sometimes we feel that we still have time even when we know we cannot create even a nano second by ourselves. Such thinking makes us procrastinate and we become presumptuous of God’s mercies and we persist in sin. However, we must not forget that there is never a time when it is safe to take a vacation from the Christian life. He might come when we are on that vacation. So, whatever we need to do has to be done now because we do not know when the bridegroom will come. That is because there are certain things one cannot obtain at the last moment. Just as it was impossible for the wise virgins to share their oil with the foolish ones at that moment, there is also no possibility of repentance and conversion of heart after death. We can only repent now.
If God has taken time to prepare His heaven before coming to call us to dwell with Him, then we will be jokers if we think we can enter a prepared place unprepared. Because heaven is actually a prepared place for those who are prepared. Life on earth is an opportunity to prepare for that heavenly life that is eternal. Like the foolish virgins, we could get really busy too but unprepared. We are preoccupied most times with looking good, making more money, building our careers and dreams for a better future, but do we care to prepare our lives, families, and world for God? We can always find excuses for not being able to come to church for mass and other spiritual activities but we do not find excuses when we have social events. Are the things we are doing now the most important things we need to do in our lives? Today we are reminded to be wise and make the best use of our time before it is too late. It is only when we make good use of our time by adequately being prepared all the time that we can have a share in the eternal life prepared by God for us in heaven. And to be prepared at all times is to shun evil and seek to do the will of God at all times. Therefore, ask yourself if there is anything stopping you from adequately preparing. Let it go and turn back to the Lord without delay. May the Lord give us the grace to seek Him the true Wisdom so that we can be always prepared for His coming at all times, and may He find us ready when He comes. We ask this through Christ Our Lord. Amen.