32nd Sunday of Ordinary – 8 November 2020
Bible Readings for Mass: I. Wisdom 6:12-16; Responsorial: Psalm 63; II: I Thessalonians 4:13-18; Gospel: Matthew 25:1-13
Today in our Gospel reading we have the parable of the ten virgins with their lamps awaiting the bridegroom. The Holy Spirit wants to help us prepare for the soon to arrive season of Advent. Even more important the Holy Spirit wants to help us to prepare for the Return of Jesus the Christ, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Today we are reminded of the urgent necessity of remembering and being keepers of the Light as we seek to be ready…for God and the heavenly kingdom. This Light of Christ is all the more urgently needed as this incredible year marches to a close.
This Saturday morning it has been announced we have a new president. Although the normal peaceful, respectful and honorable transition of leadership will likely not occur we can be grateful that our country has the means to grow through to the next chapter. We have passed through a dark election cycle of great passion and strife. May the light and peace of God overcome the darkness.
We continue to battle a pandemic that is seeing a tragic surge in new cases and deaths. Medical resources and caregivers are overwhelmed. Grief and fear are as pervasive in this struggle. May the wisdom and light of the great Physician conquer with His healing hand.
The economy, held captive by the pandemic battles to adapt and survive. May the Giver of all blessings bring the light of His Hope and discernment to help us share in re-building a just and faithful economy.
The environment suffering deep perils of climate change has seen hurricanes of fierce and repeated focus on lands and people for months. Fire storms have sought to replace storms of needed rain and cooling in every corner of the world. The family of nations needs to urgently awaken and light lamps to direct the hard work of faith-filled care of our common home.
Truly, great is the darkness of the times in which we live. And great can be the temptation to focus and dwell in the darkness. A darkness that will only increase fear, doubt and divisive hate. It is no coincidence that sins of racism, prejudice and unGodly intolerance have flourished in many souls and places. Again great is the temptation to dwell upon the dark. But we are called to be keepers of the Light.
The Parable of the Ten Virgins, like all Scriptures, has an abundance of lessons and truths to help us grow in faith. But in this year of dense difficulties and stormy uncertainty let us focus on the lights given to virgins to keep and maintain.
First we can find essential assurance and hope in the times described. The bridegroom was, seemingly, delayed. It was very late. And dark. We are reminded of a basic fact of which we easily overlook. Light is only needed…in the dark times! A majestic lighthouse on a clear sunny day is a photo-worthy monument. But the true purpose, power and majesty is only seen and experienced, in the times of storm and darkness. So it is for each of us. Jesus has given us the Light of His Word, His Presence to show us that He is, in all truth, the Shepherd who lightens our path. And no matter the darkness His Light will not be quenched.
The promise of Jesus of unquenchable Light in the first chapter of the Gospel of St. John is of joyful, powerful assurance. Our Lord goes on to instruct that as His lights in the world He will give us the light, the fuel, the power to keep burning for Him. This holy light, this kindly light (to borrow St. John Cardinal Newman’s phrase) is eternal, unquenchable, in God.
While the Light of God is steadfast and greater than any darkness it is subject to one difficulty. Those to whom God has entrusted this light are free to neglect the care of that light. We have a responsibility of faith and love to keep, maintain our lamps for God.
As a maker of beeswax candles I learned, early on, the quality and the cleanliness of the beeswax was very important. Fresh, clean beeswax would make candles of beautiful scent and brightness. If an old or dirty wax was used the candles would smell and burn with a weak and faltering light. So it is in our souls. If we neglect to keep the promised oil of the Holy Spirit filling us we may flicker out. If we choose a cheap substitute fuel of sensational or worldly promises drilled from the soils of politics or material wealth we will find our light failing. We will experience how great the darkness can be. Another significant point to remember comes from the parable. While we are called to share the Light of Christ we must take careful heed of the fullness of the Holy Spirit, the holy oil that fuels our lives. St. Paul spoke of the peril of quenching the Holy Spirit. We must in, faithful mercy, discern that at times events, places, people can rob us of the freedom and fullness of the Spirit of Christ. False spirits of judgement, spiritual pride, ego and worldly care can quench and drain us of the fullness of God for which we are created and being redeemed.
But always and forever as we seek Christ, to abide and walk in the Spirit of God, we are assured of His light. We will grow to discover that in the simple holy Light given us by God is a vast and powerful array of color, life, hope, and power for all and for all eternity. Let us each, together, in these extraordinary days both keep, care and share the Light who is Christ.