08Nov 08 November, 2020. 32nd Sunday, Year A

08 November, 2020. 32nd Sunday, Year A

If we hope in the resurrection, despite our grieving we have hope. The hopefulness of Wisdom is given sharper focus by St Paul, who says that all we have lost will be restored when Jesus returns in glory.

1st Reading: Wisdom 6:12-16

In praise of Wisdom, which is easily discerned by those who love her

Wisdom is radiant and unfading, and she is easily discerned by those who love her,
and is found by those who seek her.
She hastens to make herself known to those who desire her.
One who rises early to seek her will have no difficulty, for she will be found sitting at the gate.

To fix one’s thought on her is perfect understanding; one who is vigilant on her account will soon be free from care, because she goes about seeking those worthy of her, and she graciously appears to them in their paths, and meets them in every thought.

Responsorial: Psalm 62:2-8

R./: My soul is thirsting for you O Lord my God

O God, you are my God, for you I long;
for you my soul is thirsting.
My body pines for you
like a dry, weary land without water. (R./)

So I gaze on you in the sanctuary
to see your strength and your glory.
For your love is better than life,
my lips will speak your praise. (R./)

So I will bless you all my life,
in your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul shall be filled as with a banquet,
my mouth shall praise you with joy. (R./)

On my bed I remember you.
On you I muse through the night
for you have been my help;
in the shadow of your wings I rejoice. (R./)

2nd Reading: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

We should not grieve as others do who have no hope

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died. For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will by no means precede those who have died.

For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call and with the sound of God’s trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.

Gospel: Matthew 25:1-13

We must be ready to meet the Lord when he comes

Jesus told this parable to his disciples: “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.”


Responsible for our own destiny

The refusal of the wise virgins to share may appear selfish. But here we are not talking really about lamps and oil but about people and life. There are certain things you cannot borrow or inherit. Your parents or my parents may have been the best people in the world. If so, that is a blessing beyond measure. But for all that it cannot be taken for granted that we will automatically become decent caring men and women. We can learn from one another, be inspired by one another, but in the last analysis we shape our own destiny. Character cannot be transferred or borrowed. We must build it for ourselves.

The same is true of the faith. Parents and other people are reminded that it is their responsibility to hand on the faith to the younger generation. But again faith is not like a farm of land or a legacy. It cannot be given by a parent to a child. Yes, all kinds of encouragement and good example can help enormously, but in the end, the young person as they grow up to maturity must accept or reject the invitation in his or her own heart.

The arrival of children of their own can often be a decisive moment for young parents as regards the faith. Some never seem to come back, but always remember God has his own way of welcoming people home even if along unexpected routes.


Life after Death?

Our present-day western civilisation derives, in great part, from Greek, Roman and Jewish cultures. But in attitudes, in ancient times, towards life after death, there could be no greater gap between, on the one hand, the Graeco-Roman tradition, and on the other, the Jewish tradition. In particular, when confronted with the inevitability of death, the response of the person without faith was, and today is, one of despair. On a pagan tombstone from the classical period can be read the grim inscription, “I was not, I became; I am not, I care not.” Essentially it means: “When you’re dead, you’re dead!” In similar vein, the Roman lyric poet, Horace, who died the year Christ was born, had this advice for the reader: “Enjoy the present day, and trust in tomorrow as little as you can.” (Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero). No wonder then that he motto of the time was, “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.”)

In the Jewish tradition, belief in resurrection after death did not gain acceptance until the first century before Christ. But there was belief in a shadowy existence of the departed in a place called Sheol, where they could neither know God nor praise him. If we take the Book of Ecclesiastes, for example, written about 300 B.C., we find its author agreeing, yes, there can be a certain happiness in eating, drinking and being content with one’s work while on earth, but because of the futility of earthly pursuits and possessions, there is in human beings a God-given yearning for something deeper, especially for the meaning of all experience and all time. And God is the only one who is wise, the only one who knows.

In a chapter full of vivid imagery, the author of Ecclesiastes describes how, without being touched in the least by the passing of man to his eternal abode, the things of nature carry on with their own pursuits. Even those who mourn the passing from this life of one of their own are already walking to and fro in the street before, as the writer says, “the silver cord is snapped, or the golden lamp (of life) is broken, or before the dust returns to the earth from whence it came, and the spirit to God who gave it.” There is some element in each person which this world is not worthy to retain; it is of God, and after its sojourn here it returns to God.

The greatest change in attitude to life hereafter came about with belief in the resurrection of Christ. “For us,” St Paul wrote to the Philippians 3:20), “our homeland is in heaven, and from heaven comes the Saviour we are waiting for, the Lord Jesus Christ, and he will transfigure these lowly bodies of ours into copies of his own glorious body.” We should not therefore, he tells us in the liturgy today, remain without understanding concerning those close to us who have passed away.

We should not grieve as others do, who have no concept of eternal life. Note, he does not tell us to avoid all sorrow, for sorrow over the death of a loved one is a natural reaction, but rather not to be like others, who have no hope. The necessity of losing somebody in death causes us anguish, but hope consoles us. Our human frailty is tried by the one, but our faith is strengthened by the other. The liturgy this month asks us to respond in two practical ways. Firstly, it tells us to be prepared, not to let things go too late. No tolling funeral bell can cause greater anguish than the words “too late.” Those who live all their lives close to Christ will never be unprepared to enter his presence, will be with Christ even in death, and will finally share in his glorious resurrection. Secondly, it invites us to assist with our prayers those who have gone before us.

St Monica was always anxious to be buried alongside her husband, but when she was dying at Ostia, the port of Rome, she made this last request to her son, Augustine, “Lay this body anywhere,” she said, “let it not be a care to you. This only I ask of you, that you would remember me at the Lord’s altar wherever you may be.” We too should keep in mind that in death life is changed, not ended. This is our Christian hope; this is our God-given trust.


Awake to the Lord

The wedding banquet is a consistent image of eternal life in the New Testament. We can only speak about the unknown and unfamiliar in terms of what is known and familiar. The wedding banquet highlights eternal life as that state in which the deepest hunger and thirst in our lives will be satisfied, especially the hunger and thirst for love, for God who is love. “O God. for you my soul is thirsting” (responsorial psalm.) In the second reading, Paul. without making use of the banquet image, speaks of life beyond death in a similar vein–it is that eternal moment when “God will bring them (those who have died) with him” and when “we shall stay with the Lord forever.” Eternal life will mean entering into a new” and fuller relationship with God and, through him, with all creation.

Yet, the parable warns us that it is possible to exclude ourselves from the banquet of eternal life. It was only those who were ready, who went in with the bridegroom to the wedding hall. When God comes to bring us, will we be ready? Life, including life after death is God’s gift to us and a gift. by definition, can be refused, However, we will certainly be ready to accept this ultimate gift, if throughout our lives we have learned to be receptive to God. Our daily attitudes will determine our attitude at the moment of death. Today’s gospel concludes with a ringing exhortation “Stay awake.” One important way in which we stay awake to God is prayer. “Why are you sleeping?” Jesus asked his friends, “get up and pray” (Luke 22:46.) To pray is to awaken to the Lord who is always awake to us. In prayer we look for the Lord, desire him, watch for him and think about him. To pray is to become like a child, to grow in receptivity to God’s presence within us.

 

6 Responses

  1. Kevin Walters

    An act of perfect contrition can take place at any time if the heart is moved to do so, no matter what the state of that heart may be before His inviolate Word (Will)

    In the parable of ten virgins or in other words the wise and the foolish, it is fair to say that the general consensus on this parable is ‘be prepared stay awake’ but we all slumber because we are all vessels (Lamp holders) made of clay.

    All those who have heard the inviolate Word/Will/Truth of God and acknowledged it within the heart have had the divine spark ignited within them, as the essence of this spark is Truth. When this happens our pure (virgin) journey commences as we now have the light (Lamp) to follow His on-going Light/Way/Path of spiritual transformation, that is a humble heart that eventually mirrors His compassionate heart.

    As an analogy we could say that the oil is His redeeming grace and the container that holds that grace is a humble heart as only humility can draw upon the oil because only humility can ‘continually’ trim (Reignite) the smouldering wick (Will).
    Midnight relates to that moment in the journey through life when we enter into a new day (reality) via death.

    We all have slumbered (Some more than others), but the prudent in their purity of intent own their negligence (Sin) before Him and continually trim/renew the wick and when death comes, they will always be ready to greet the bridegroom.

    Sadly, the imprudent whose lamps presumably had long smouldered, now at this crucial moment in time realise that their lamps have gone out. They never bought into the on-going reality of the need of creating a contrite heart (Container) of humility, the only vessel that can continually contain His Divine Mercy.

    When we look at the good thief (Who was ‘entangled in a sinful situation’) upon the cross we can see/deduce that he was already aware of the goodness of God – “this man has done nothing wrong” – the divine spark within him had been ignited at some time before the Crucifixion and held in a heart of humility that is one of self-awareness of his state before God, as he now publicly acknowledges in truth the reality of his own heart (Trims the wick) and embraces before us the ‘Truth’ the essence of Love, as Divine Mercy (Grace) was then given to him unreservedly.

    “Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you; I do not know you.'”

    Or put another way ‘I cannot see you’ as the divine spark (Truth/Light) within the heart had been extinguished.

    kevin your brother
    In Christ

  2. Thara+Benedicta

    Key message:

    Why worry on earth when we can rest in the bosom of our Almighty Father, when our time is done?

    Homily:

    The takeaway from the first reading:
    The first reading says that to those who rise up early and seek God early in the morning, God will grant Wisdom. When we seek God as the first task in our day, then we will be equipped with the strength to face the challenges of our day. If we work night shifts like serving as nurses in the hospital, and if we are able to wake up at 12 noon, then our early morning is 12 noon. The main criterion is keeping God as our first priority in our day. The most important thing in our life is to spend quality personal time with the Lord. If we learned to sit at the feet of our dear Jesus daily in the morning, then we have learned to live our life.

    The takeaway from the second reading:
    In today’s second reading, Paul very affectionately consoles us not to worry about the souls of our departed beloved brothers and sisters. The reason he provides is very soothing – Just as Jesus was raised from the dead, all the believers will be raised from the dead. On the day of the second coming, we will be caught up with our departed beloved ones and meet our Lord in the air. So this parting is temporary only. Then we all will be together with our Lord forever.

    The takeaway from Gospel reading:
    In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus talks about the wise women ready with an extra flask of oil and the foolish women without an extra flask of oil.
    What makes a person wise or foolish? The answer is clearly provided in today’s first reading. The first reading says that wisdom will be found by those who rise early and seek her. Wisdom is granted by God when we seek Him early in the morning. The extra flask of oil is the Wisdom granted by God. So when we seek Him early in the morning, we will be filling our flask with oil, ready to meet our dear Lord. Why worry on earth when we can rest in the bosom of our Almighty Father when our time is done?

    Tips to seek wisdom:
    1. “For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth comes knowledge and understanding.” Proverbs 2:6.
    King Solomon got unlimited wisdom from God. He pleased Almighty God by his sacrifices. Psalm 50:14 says “Offer to God the sacrifice of thanksgiving”. Keep thanking our wonderful God for all the benevolent graces He has bestowed on us.

    2. Saints have enriched our church’s library with priceless treasures. “Introduction to the Devout Life” by Saint Francis De Sales is an easy and precious book to guide us through our prayer life and to experience a closer walk with our God.

    3. The major disturbance we may have for our prayer time is – lack of focus, our mind runs from issue to issue and we end up wasting our time. During these instances, we can play devotional hymns from YouTube or CDs, etc. But please have the electronic stuff prepared the previous day, otherwise the next day, prayer time will be wasted in searching and setting up things required. This is one of my experiences.

    4. There is no structure for prayer. But we can begin with asking forgiveness for whatever we feel bad about because of our own doings so that we feel our burden of sin lifted up.

    5. Start the day with thanksgiving. Thank Him with all your heart. It’s better to begin with recalling all the goodness we have received personally. This is because we will get easily overwhelmed with gratitude when we recall all the goodness and consolations we have received, more than the goodness received by others.

    6. Scriptures have beautiful confessions – “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. Repeat them again and again.

    7. If we are not able to pray during our prayer time we should not waste the day regretting it. God our Father will help us. We can go through our tasks for the day, thanking God for all the little things.

    8. Lamentations 3:22-24 says “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.’” Yes our Lord gives us a fresh load of compassion every morning. It’s sufficient for the strength we need for the day.

    Our portion is our Lord. Therefore let us wait for Him as our first activity in the morning.

  3. Kevin Walters

    A very good homily Thara @ 2

    I was drawn to ‘Tips to seek wisdom’ Number 3 “The major disturbance we may have for our prayer time is – lack of focus…. During these instances, we can play devotional hymns from YouTube or CDs, etc”

    In my own brokenness/lack of focus rather than just listen I have internalised a few hymns one been ‘Sweet Heart of Jesus’ which is a prayer in itself. Some readers may also find this a helpful way of uplifting one’s heart to God to avoid distraction. Here are the first three verses.

    Sweet heart of Jesus, fount of love and mercy,
    today we come, thy blessing to implore;
    O touch our hearts, so cold and so ungrateful,
    and make them, Lord, thine own for evermore.

    Chorus
    Sweet heart of Jesus, we implore,
    O make us love thee more and more.

    2. Sweet heart of Jesus, make us know and love thee,
    unfold to us the treasures of thy grace;
    that so our hearts, from things of earth uplifted,
    may long alone to gaze upon thy face.

    3. Sweet heart of Jesus, make us pure and gentle,
    and teach us how to do thy blessed will;
    to follow close the print of thy dear footsteps,
    and when we fall – sweet heart, oh, love us still.

    kevin your brother
    In Christ

  4. Sean+O’Conaill

    How are we to make the house ready for the Lord’s return when we cannot even agree that he ever shall?

    Christendom’s misuse of the Creeds as sources for inquisitorial prosecution was undoubtedly the cause of the Enlightenment’s indignant reaction – and even of Tony Flannery’s current question: ‘What is the point of them?’

    If the Irish episcopal magisterium is sure it has a good answer, why for all of the decades since Vatican II have we never been convened to hear and discuss it – to ready this untidy and fractious house for the coming of the Lord?

    But wait a moment! As darkness falls, the possibility – despite the scientific Enlightenment – of global extinction is sharpening our understanding of the need for sacrifice as well as science. So is this warning of the dying of the light, Covid. As the best of us risk everything, swordless, for the weakest they are ahead of us in the tidying of the house and the lighting of lamps. There is time yet for all to be ready – for the point of the Creeds was never to enable prosecution and condemnation but to assure us of Resurrection.

    I know this because my own education was completed by a literal experience of arrest on a false charge, and the finding at my elbow instantly of the advocate who has always been with me, since Confirmation. The Creeds are true in their essence, as stories of rescue of the one who was falsely charged of blasphemy by those who did not understand. And the arrival of the Normans in Ireland in 1169 was also an experience of arrest on a false charge, with the permission of a pope.

    It is elevation that blocks insight, and misfortune that makes things clear. And the gathering darkness is sending us all hunting for the oil of sacrifice – the giving of ourselves.

  5. Tom Showerman

    I am a member of the laity. I found this site from article in N.C.R. Is it ok for me to visit this site? Your homilies and comments are very good. God bless you all for being faithful servants of Christ and his church. Sincerely, Tom Showerman 8775 Iosco Rd. Fowlerville, MI 4883

    Editor: You’re welcome Tom.

  6. Thara Benedicta

    Thank you brother Kevin !!


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