32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time-Cycle A–2017

FIRST READING  Wisdom 6:12-16

Resplendent and unfading is wisdom, and she is readily perceived by those who love her, and found by those who seek her.  She hastens to make herself known in anticipation of their desire; whoever watches for her at dawn shall not be disappointed, for he shall find her sitting by his gate.  For taking thought of wisdom is the perfection of prudence, and whoever for her sake keeps vigil shall quickly be free from care; because she makes her own rounds, seeking those worthy of her, and graciously appears to them in the ways, and meets them with all solicitude.

SECOND READING        1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

We do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, about those who have fallen asleep, so that you may not grieve like the rest, who have no hope.  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose, so too will God, through Jesus, bring with him those who have fallen asleep.  Indeed, we tell you this, on the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will surely not precede those who have fallen asleep.  For the Lord himself, with a word of command, with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God, will come down from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.  Thus we shall always be with the Lord.  Therefore, console one another with these words.

GOSPEL       Matthew 25:1-13

Jesus told his disciples this parable:  “The kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.  Five of them were foolish and five were wise.  The foolish ones, when taking their lamps, brought no oil with them, but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps.  Since the bridegroom was long delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep.  At midnight, there was a cry, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’  Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps.  The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’  But the wise ones replied, ‘No, for there may not be enough for us and you.  Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’  While they went off to buy it, the bridegroom came and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him.  Then the door was locked.  Afterwards the other virgins came and said, ‘Lord, Lord, open the door for us!’  But he said in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.’  Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

My sisters and brothers in Christ,

“Wisdom is readily perceived by those who love her, and found by those who seek her.”  As we come to the last Sundays of Ordinary Time, we are invited to seek wisdom and to love wisdom.

The first reading comes from the Book of Wisdom and invites us to reflect this Sunday on wisdom in our daily lives.   Wisdom is not a college degree nor does it require us to read books or memorize things.  Rather, wisdom is a capacity to live well and to make good decisions about things.  Such wisdom is only possible with good judgment coming from experience and everyday knowledge.  There are many people with advanced academic degrees who have very little wisdom and there are lots of people with no academic degrees who are true wisdom figures and reflect the wisdom of God.

Each of us can think in his own heart and mind right now about the people that we might ask for advice in our lives.  Those people are usually wisdom figures for us.  They are people whose practical judgments we would trust and also whose spiritual advice could be helpful.  This first reading reminds us that we need to seek wisdom and once we find some wisdom, we must treasure wisdom.

The second reading today is from the First Letter to the Thessalonians.  In this section of the letter we are reminded that our whole faith is based on the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead.  If Jesus died and did not rise, then our faith is worth nothing.  Jesus Himself tells us that He is the Resurrection.  Jesus is clear that our death is only a passing to a new life in a new way, with God the Father, with Jesus Himself and with the Holy Spirit.  If we begin to think of our faith as simply good decisions made in the light of the teachings of Jesus, who was an enlightened religious man—then we have no faith at all.  Rather we believe that Jesus is fully God and fully man and leads us to the Father.  We want to live completely the teachings of Jesus so that we have life eternal—Resurrection.

The Gospel from Matthew today brings us back to wisdom.  The parable that Jesus gives to us illustrates the practical nature of wisdom.  All ten of the virgins wanted to meet the bridegroom but five of them did not bring enough oil to keep their lamps burning.  This is the wisdom aspect!  A person who knows about oil lamps will know that extra oil must be taken along if the wait is going to be long.  That is simply a practical piece of knowledge.  But five of the virgins did not have that wisdom.  And so when the bridegroom was delayed, then they ran out of oil.

The whole point of this parable is that we must be ready for the Lord.  To be ready for the Lord, we must be willing to wait for the Lord.  To wait for the Lord, we must be willing to do all the things that will allow us to be ready as we wait.  Probably all of us who are here really want to be with the Lord.  Do we live our lives in such a way that we are always ready for Him?

Your brother in the Lord,

Abbot Philip