HOMILY/REFLECTION FOR THE THIRTY-SECOND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR A.
TOPIC: PREPARING FOR THE LORD’S COMING
BY: Fr. Mike Lagrimas
Gospel: Mt 25:1-13
Message #448: “The Times of Your Witness”
1. The Marian Message
a) There is a need for Christians to give witness to the world: we are called upon to give Jesus to the world through our witnessing. We must make Jesus concretely alive to the people in the world through our life. We should be the living pictures of Jesus in our times.
b) There are four ways of witnessing mentioned by the Blessed Mother: “witness of being consecrated to me” (letter c) – through our life consecrated to Jesus through Mary; “witness of walking with me along the road of faith” (letter d) – through our life filled with a firm and strong faith in God; “witness of walking with me along the road of prayer” (letter e) – through a life of intense prayer, and; “witness of walking with me along the road of holiness” (letter f) – through a life of holiness.
c) All these ways of witnessing are necessary to keep burning the flame of faith in us and in others. She reminds us of our role of being the light of the world: “In these days of great darkness, your light will shine forth with greater and greater strength to the point of surrounding with its rays and illuminating souls, the Church, and all humanity.” As Christians, we bear the light of Christ, so that when He comes again, we will be ready to enter into His Wedding Feast.
2. The Sunday Readings
a) The first reading is from the Book of Wisdom. This passage extols the virtue of wisdom. It is both a gift of the Holy Spirit and a Christian virtue that helps us do things right according to the will of God.
b) The Responsorial Psalm is the ultimate expression of perfect wisdom: “My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord, my God!” A soul imbued with wisdom will always seek God and His righteousness, knowing fully well that He is the source of perfect happiness and fullness of life.
c) The second reading is St. Paul’s admonition to the Thessalonians for them not to lose hope regarding those who have died. He refers to the departed brethren as those “who have fallen asleep.” This is in clear reference to the fact that death is not the end of life, but only the passage to eternal life. Resurrection in Jesus awaits those who have “fallen asleep”. d) The Gospel Reading is the parable of the Ten Virgins. It capsulizes the message of all the readings this Sunday. It talks about our innate desire to be fully united with God at the end of our life, like the virgins waiting for the bridegroom. It also mentions about “falling sleep” (dying) and being “awakened” (resurrection). Death, after all, is not something to be scared of. Rather, we eagerly await the coming of the Lord when He comes again with our lamps ready and burning all the time. Then we will be welcomed into the heavenly Marriage Feast, in the company with all the angels and saints in heaven.
3) Points for Reflection
a) The Bridegroom is Jesus Christ. He will surely come, but nobody knows when is the exact time. We profess this in the Creed: “He will come again to judge the living and the dead.” We call this “Parousia”, but others would prefer to call it “The Rapture”. According to St. Paul, at the end the world, immediately before Jesus returns as the Eternal Judge, there will be two groups of Christians: “those who have fallen asleep,” (those who have died) and “we who are alive.” The living would have no advantage over those who have died. At the sound of the trumpet, Jesus will raise the dead and then those who are left behind – that is, Christians still alive – will be caught up in the air. Both the dead and the living will be transformed by Christ and judged accordingly. This event is as sure as the sun rises in the east every morning. Unfortunately, many people do not take this seriously anymore.
b) The main point of the parable is not about “falling asleep”. The five virgins were called “foolish” not because they fell asleep. In fact, even the wise virgins also fell asleep. Rather, the point here is about the supply of oil. What matters, as St. Paul emphasizes, is not whether we are “asleep” (dead) or alive when Jesus returns. What matters is whether we are with Jesus. That is what today’s Gospel is all about. When the Lord returns will we have oil in our lamps or will our lamps run empty? If we have our lamps filled with oil, we will be able to join the Bridegroom in his eternal Wedding Feast.
c) Why did the wise virgins not share their oil with the other five? This may sound selfish on their part, and if this is the case, they cannot be considered wise anymore. As the parable points out, salvation is not something we can hand over to another like an inheritance. That is why the wise virgins could not do anything about the oil. It is inalienable and non-transferrable. It has to be produced by the person himself. We are not talking about an external possession, but internal character. The person has to do the preparation himself to meet Christ. He has to equip himself with the necessary virtues and spiritual merits in order to be made worthy to join Jesus into the Eternal Wedding Feast.
d) We get the supply of oil for our lamps, not by accumulating and hoarding our blessings, but by giving and sharing with others. Selfish and greedy persons lose the oil; generous and loving persons produce more oil and heavenly treasures. As St. Francis said, “It is in giving that we receive, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”
e) The parable highlights the vital importance of time in our life. Many people tend to waste their time on many unnecessary and even harmful things. When invited to attend a religious activity (Mass, devotional practices, formation seminars, and catechesis), the most common response is, “I have no time. I am too busy.” But when invited to a social affair or even a gambling or drinking session, they will surely find time. This clearly indicates one’s personal values. They have more time for worldly activities, but they have less interest in matters of the soul. In the meantime, they are losing golden opportunities to generate the precious “oil” of salvation. They are like the foolish virgins in the parable. They will surely be left out in the cold when the Bridegroom comes unannounced. When they fall “asleep” (die), they will be awakened (resurrection) only to find out that they cannot enter the Wedding Feast in heaven. What a pity!
Song: “Lead Me, Lord!”
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