32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time
The Holy Spirit, ever guiding and preparing the Church, His Temple, brings throughout the year regular wisdom to prepare and empower the people of God. Soon, with Advent we prepare for the coming of Christ our Lord. The Holy season of Lent brings us to renew our pilgrimages of penance as we anticipate the passion and joys of our Lord’s triumph in the Easter season. So, in this season we hear God calling us to prepare for the return of His Son, Christ our Lord.
In our Gospel today Jesus uses the parable of the ten virgins awaiting the coming bridegroom. The deliberate choice of context, by Jesus is very significant. The place of young Jewish maidens (always chaste, virgin) as bridesmaids was traditional. They were called to welcome the bridegroom for and to the bride. Jesus uses this setting to show one of numerous facets of the jewel of the truth of His coming. Jesus returns, for His bride for the great wedding feast. Jesus comes again for this great holy, joyous fulfillment of His redemptive love. But this parable (as do all the lessons of Jesus) reminds us of the our need, His rightful expectation, that we be prepared.
Prepared For the Bridegroom
[Prepared: From the Latin praeparare: make ready..beforehand]
The message of Jesus in this parable is often made more complex than need be. (A problem often visited upon the Gospel as a whole). It is about people with a privilege and responsibility, HE who is sought for love and…oil.
PEOPLE of PRIVILEGE & RESPONSIBILITY ~ The ten virgins represent those called to prepare, await and seek the groom. They represent the faithful servants of God. Their chastity represents chastity as both a norm and pinnacle of love’s privilege and the call for each faithful soul to live their station of life with and for His love. They illustrate the profound privilege and responsibility of making ready beforehand all that is needed for the arrival of the groom. Likewise we are called to make ready beforehand all that is needed for the return, the coming of Christ, Lord, Savior, Groom to His most holy Bride.
HE Who is Sought for Love ~ Many, again, are the facets in the jewel of truth about our Lord’s return. Lord of Lords, Maker of the New Heavens and Earth, JUDGE, and more are these vital facets. But today we focus upon the jeweled facet of Christ the Bridegroom.
This portrays the returning of Jesus as a time of immense love, the return and coming to the great Wedding Feast of the Lamb as spoken of by John the Beloved. As is the case for all wedding celebration many are the preparations to be done beforehand. The preparations for the return of Jesus for His Bride are immense in scope and expectation. This is illustrated by the sad turning away of those who had not made ready beforehand their arrangements. Jesus comes in love, indeed, but He comes for those who sincerely seek, prepare, await Him from hearts of love.
OIL ~ These two essential participants in this account are united by the grace of Oil. Many are the symbolic uses of oil in Scripture but a most consistent is that of Oil representing the Holy Spirit. And it is the Oil of the Holy Spirit that fulfills the hope of Jesus in this message. For it is the Presence of God’s Spirit, given us in Baptism and in which we are immersed in Confirmation that we are provided all we need to be servants, ready before hand for His coming. The indwelling Holy Spirit enlightens our lives. In times of darkness He is our Light, bring the needed Wisdom of God that quenches the futile false wisdom of this world. The Oil of God, His Spirit, anoints us with healing from the wounds of doubt, fear and very human weariness that can rob us of His whispers of making ready. And its is the anointing of the Spirit of God that empowers us to fulfill whatever our vocation would be in these great and glorious preparations for Him who comes in love for us.
So, may we, His servants, embrace our privileges and responsibilities to make ready beforehand, with souls filled with His Holy Spirit, the return of Jesus our Beloved Groom.