9th August. Saturday. Saint Teresa Benedicta
Sr Teresa Benedicta (1891-1942)
Edith Stein was born into an observant Jewish family, but was an atheist by her teenage years. After studying philosophy and holding a teaching position at the University of Freiburg she became a Catholic Church and later a Discalced Carmelite nun. In 1938, she and her sister Rosa, also a convert and an religious sister, were sent to a Carmelite monastery in Echt, the Netherlands for their safety. They were arrested by the Nazis on 2 August 1942 and sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp, where they died in the gas chamber on 9 August 1942.
1) Hosea 2:16-17; 21-22
(In warm, marital imagery, the prophet describes God’s enduring love for his people, Israel.)
On that day, says the Lord, you will call me, “My husband,” and no longer will you call me, “My Baal. ”
For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be mentioned by name no more. I will make for you a covenant on that day with the wild animals, the birds of the air, and the creeping things of the ground; and I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land; and I will make you lie down in safety. On that day I will answer, says the Lord, I will answer the heavens and they shall answer the earth;
and the earth shall answer the grain, the wine, and the oil, and they shall answer Jezreel. ”
Gospel: Matthew 25:1-13
(A classic parable on being ready for Christ’s return: the wise and foolish bridesmaids.)
“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him. ‘ Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out. ‘ But the wise replied, ‘No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves. ‘ And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us. ‘ But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I do no know you. ‘ Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.
How do we think of the Last Things?
Not all even of the chosen people are assured salvation. Only five bridesmaids were there to welcome the bridal party; the others were told, “I do not know you.” The interpretation of this parable developed with time. In it Jesus was warning that salvation was not guaranteed through perfect observance of law and tradition. In this he was in continuity with Old Testament prophets up to John the Baptist, who bluntly corrected those who preened themselves on being Israelites, with Abraham as their father, “God can raise up children to Abraham from these stones.” Jesus, therefore, was not saying anything new, only imparting a greater urgency to the oft repeated prophetic challenge.
When Matthew wrote, a controversy was raging between Christian Jews andPharisaic Jews. The former considered themselves genuine disciples of both Moses and Jesus, the latter condemned them as traitors to Moses. Some of the chosen people accepted Jesus, some did not. The Messiah had come and some were not ready. Already in Matthew’s gospel, the interpretation of the parable was evolving further. The Christians faced the question of when to expect the second coming of Jesus. The moral is, “Keep awake, for you know not the day nor the hour.” Being baptised was no guarantee of being ready to welcome Jesus on his return. As we read this passage, we sense the pathos and tragedy of the foolish bridesmaids. They did nothing seriously wrong, but simply nodded off asleep. No matter how many excuses may explain the failure, nonetheless, people often let an important opportunity slip by. We need the repeated reminder, “watch, for you know not the day nor the hour.”
On the other hand, some are so absorbed in the quest for God and in rarified spirituality as to despise this present life and consider the material world totally unimportant. The danger is that hyper-spiritual people can weave a web of immorality without knowing it. They nod off to sleep and hardly notice the real condition of their lives. Paul warns against sexual aberrations and rejects the excuse that the second coming of Jesus makes our actions of no consequence.