Sunday Scripture Readings

thirty-second sunday

in ordinary time,

november 10

Wisdom 6:12-16; Psalm 63;

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Matthew 25:1-13

OUR GOOD NEWS: Get ready now for the Lord's coming, before it's too late. "The reign of God can be likened to 10 bridesmaids who took their torches and went out to welcome the groom." In Jesus' day, bridesmaids carried torches in a solemn procession to the house where a marriage feast was to take place. There, some performed round dances until their lights went out. The other young women waited with unlighted torches, sticks wrapped at one end with rags soaked in olive oil. The excited announcement of the groom's arrival galvanized the dozing girls into soaking and lighting their torches. Now caught without fuel reserves, the foolish ones tried to borrow from the wise, who had enough only for themselves, then scurried off to buy from dealers. They returned too late. The celebration had already begun, a heavy door barred for protection and privacy, round dances in progress or completed. Negligent servants rather than invited guests, these young women tried to sneak in with the connivance of other servants, but got a well-deserved scolding (or worse) from the master who himself responded to their knock. We smile at such pathetic attempts to get out of a situation they should have prepared for. We all have painful experiences of such procrastinators who try to scrounge from friends at the last minute. So, too, in the area of religion. What matters is not the occasional, last-minute burst of spiritual fervor but habitual attention to responsibilities before God. Jesus, however, didn't preach at such types or put them down. Instead he gently told a comic tale about young people whose immaturity could partly be excused. Nevertheless, at a deeper level the story also disturbs the prudent among us. We fall into a comfortable rut living each day as though life continues without end, but the kingdom's coming will be sudden and sobering. Are we ready to "come out" from our accustomed living and "greet" the Lord? Now is the time for thoroughgoing preparation. At the final judgment there will be no depending upon others' resources, no begging or borrowing of what must be personal possession. From another perspective today's Gospel poses an obvious challenge. Instead of the tendency for some of us to put things off - and for all of us to drift without acute awareness of our final destiny - we should attend to duties of the present moment, preparing now rather than waiting until it's too late, when there's no immature depending upon others. Today's practical first reading from the Book of Wisdom complements Jesus' parable. God willingly reveals himself, but mysteriously - in His own way, according to His own timetable. God can be found, but only by those who never give up the search, yet patiently await His initiative.

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