|by Angela (Lambert) Jendro|
November 12th, 2017 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Gospel of Matthew 25:1-13 NAB
Jesus told his disciples this parable: “The kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones, when taking their lamps, brought no oil with them, but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps. Since the bridegroom was long delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight, there was a cry, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise ones replied, ‘No, for there may not be enough for us and you. Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’ While they went off to buy it, the bridegroom came and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him. Then the door was locked. Afterwards the other virgins came and said, ‘Lord, Lord, open the door for us!’ But he said in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”
What do we need to be ready for Christ? At Baptism we received a lighted candle, and the call to be the light of Christ in the world. Sometimes we may feel that zeal and live our faith in a powerful way. Other times the routine and busyness of every day drains our energy and we become drowsy or complacent. Work projects or sports tournaments begin to overshadow weekly Sunday Mass and after rationalizing missing one Sunday we easily slip into missing most. Seeing our bible collect dust we might open it up and resolve to read it every day until we’ve completed it cover to cover. Half-way through Genesis, the first book of the Bible, we give up. Maybe we are going through a tough time and it renews our zeal to pray daily. After it passes we continue a little longer in thanksgiving. A few weeks into the hum drum of life without much drama we begin to forget that time with the Lord.
So how do we keep our candles lit during the long wait? Heaven is union with God and so we need to burn with the fire of His love. Authentic love perseveres because it’s rooted deeper than the emotions. It requires conviction, consistent nurturing, and Christ’s grace.
Every relationship requires effort and ongoing time and attention to be sustained. In the same way, we can fuel our love for Christ by developing our convictions through ongoing study of Scripture, the teachings of our Faith, and the lives of the saints. We can nurture our relationship by setting aside time with the Lord daily in prayer and weekly at Mass. Lastly, we can ask Christ for His grace to sustain us and transform us. Most importantly, when we come to the banquet of His love in the Eucharist, He fills us with His divine love which burns away anything that comes between us and Him.
We can also root out things that undermine our relationship with Christ by rooting them out in our human relationships as well. Being attentive to our family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers will require many of the same virtues we need to be attentive to the Lord. To listen to our loved one when they need to talk will mean saying no to whatever else was occupying our attention at that moment. To visit someone will mean scheduling time and moving other things around to make it happen.
Christ wants to visit us today. Where can He find an open door and a lighted lamp? Hopefully He can find us at prayer, speak to us in Scripture, and be received by us in the Eucharist at Mass. Then, when He comes again for the final time, we will be ready and our joy will be complete. During our lives we will have said, “Come Lord, enter my heart and be welcomed by my love.” And at the end of our lives, He will stretch His hand out to us, where we will find the door open and He will say to us, “Come my child, enter my heart and be welcomed eternally by my love.”
- When has your faith been most on fire for the Lord? Was it after a retreat, an experience in prayer, a profound event in your life, a speaker or book you read, sacred music that lifted your heart?
- What competes with your devotion to Christ? Distractions from pleasures, anxiety from stress, a busy schedule, a pull toward laziness, numbness from emotional pain, an addiction?
- How do you prepare for guests, especially at the holidays? Consider the extra thoughtfulness you put into preparing food they will like or attentiveness to the little details that will add warmth to the experience.
- Consider Christ visiting. How might you be attentive to Him? Schedule time for conversation. Welcome Him through others by works of mercy.
Make a Resolution (Practical Application):
- Resolve on one thing this week to detach you from something that competes with love for Christ, and one thing to keep the fire of love lit for Him.
- Ideas for detachment: Identify an attachment (click here for how to: identifying attachments), then practice the opposite virtue. If you don’t pray because you sleep through your morning alarm, resolve to get up at the right time or 10 minutes earlier. If you have work or sports on Sundays, look ahead to find a Mass time that will work, even if you have to visit a different parish to do so. If possible, change your work schedule.
- Ideas for feeding the fire: 10 minutes of prayer, spiritual reading, learning about your faith through books, podcasts, or a class at church, reading about the life of a saint, spending time with a faith-filled Christian friend.
~ Written by Angela Jendro © 2017
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