HOMILY : 32ND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (YEAR A)
By: Rev Fr Stephen ‘Dayo Osinkoya
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
There is an old story of a jester who sometimes made very wise utterances. One day, the jester had said something so foolish that the king, handing him a staff, said to him, “Take this, and keep it till you find a bigger fool than yourself.” Some years later, the king was very ill, and lay on his deathbed. His courtiers were called; his family and his servants also stood round his bedside. The king, addressing them, said, “I am about to leave you. I am going on a very long journey, and I shall not return again to this place: so I have called you all to say ‘Goodbye’.” Then his jester stepped forward and, addressing the king, said, “Your Majesty, may I ask a question? When you journeyed abroad visiting your people, staying with your nobles, or paying diplomatic visits to other courts, your heralds and servants always went before you, making preparations for you. May I ask what preparations your Majesty has made for this long journey that he is about to take?” “Alas!” replied the king, “I have made no preparations.” “Then,” said the jester, “take this staff with you, for now I have found a bigger fool than myself.”
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Be prepared is the oft repeated call of today`s readings. Remember it wasn’t actually raining when Noah began building the ark! To understand the context of today`s gospel story we need to realise that we are coming to the end of Matthew`s gospel and its towards the end of the liturgical year.
In the first reading the writer of the book of Wisdom presents to us wisdom personified. He says, “Wisdom is radiant and unfading and she is easily discerned by those who love her” (Wisdom 6:12). This means that wisdom cannot be hidden. It is something that is always evident for all to see. It is always brightening. Thus no one can have any excuse for not finding it.
In the second reading, Paul encourages the Thessalonians as well as us not to bother or grief too much about those who have died or gone before the second coming of Christ. That is, the Parousia. “…Do not grief about them like other people who have no hope…God will bring them with him…” This advice is anchored on the hope we have in the resurrection of the dead. So instead of worrying so much about them, the wisest thing to do is to worry about ourselves. What is supposed to bother us should not be what will become of the dead but, what will become of us the living when Christ comes. What should bother me is, how do I get there, how prepared am I for the Lord should he appear now as he promised.
In the Gospel Reading from St. Matthew, we hear about ‘The Parable of Ten Virgins,’ where the Evangelist changes the emphasis on the theme of eternal life to stress the necessity of being awake and prepared for the Lord’s coming and the definitive establishment of the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus tells of a division between those who prepare themselves for the patient wait for the proverbial spouse and those who do not. He speaks of a lost opportunity as those who should have been ready are shut out.
A wise follower of Christ cannot afford to be casual and unprepared for that moment. The situation can be compared to a student who studies his lessons regularly. When a surprise test is given, he is ready and passes it. He is like the wise virgins. On the other hand, the student who studies only when there is an announced test is like the foolish virgins. When a surprise test is given, he is not prepared and thus fails.
wisdom is one of the many fruits of closeness to God.
Jesus says, the bridesmaids who came to meet the bridegroom well prepared were wise. They undertook to be part of a ritual according to custom and they prepared for the eventuality of there being a delay. They took their responsibility seriously.
We, as members of this parish community ought to act the same way. Turning up on time with our lamp may not be enough. We should know what else we must do to keep the church and the parish with its rituals and customs alive and functioning.
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