Today’s readings are primarily focused on wisdom in the context of the coming of the Kingdom. “Resplendent and unfading is wisdom, and she is readily perceived by those who love her and found by those who seek her.”
As we are nearing the end of the current liturgical year, the Church is reminding us that we are also each nearing the end of our mortal lives here on earth, no matter what our age. The “wise” among us will be attentive and will be ready to greet the bridegroom when he invites us to join in the wedding feast. Through a prayerful and sacramental life, the wise will have enough oil (spirituality) to sustain them while they await the coming of the Kingdom. The “unwise” who do not live a prayerful and sacramental life will be left outside and the doors will be locked against them forever.
The parable of the ten virgins reminds me of a challenging homily that our Pastor gave several years ago relating to Matthew’s gospel. Near the end of the homily, he asked the entire congregation “how many of you want to go to Heaven?” Of course, everyone put their hand up. His next question was more challenging and provocative, “how many of you want to go to Heaven TODAY?” Not surprisingly, only two or three hands went up. What is the implication here?
By our human nature we all cling to our lives for as long as we can. It is difficult to conceive that we might die today even though we are hopeful of eternal life in Heaven. And so, we hope for a few more days, a few more weeks, a few more months, or several more years. There is nothing wrong with that human desire, but as pointed out in the parable it begs the question of whether we will be “ready” throughout the span of the rest of our lives? Or do we take advantage of the time that we think we have left to allow ourselves to “become drowsy and fall asleep” in our spiritual and sacramental lives? The “wise” virgins in the parable made sure that they would be ready when the bridegroom returned. The “unwise” virgins only hoped that they would have enough oil to sustain them until the bridegroom returned. They obviously did not.
We all know of many people who died suddenly and unexpectedly. My mother was one of them. It is probably certain that most of them did not anticipate a quick end to their lives. We pray that they each were prepared to greet the bridegroom for the wedding feast. As tempting as it is to “estimate” the length of life that each of us has left, it is also “unwise”. That is not to suggest that we will not be ready when our time comes. Rather, we can become complacent and drowsy and fall asleep as did the unwise virgins.
So, the question to keep ourselves focused on our spiritual and sacramental life on a daily basis: “Am I ready to go to Heaven today?
Bill Berger has had a life-long relationship with the Passionist Family. Bill and his wife, Linda, are currently leaders of the Community of Passionist Partners (CPP’s) in Houston, Texas.