09 November 2023

'Christ is the Bridegroom.' Sunday Reflections, 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Christ and the Wise Virgins
German Mediaeval Sculptor [Web Gallery of Art]

Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland)

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

Gospel Matthew 25:1-13 (English Standard Version Anglicised, India)

Jesus told this parable to his disciples:

“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For 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, they all became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’  Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Afterwards the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

Léachtaí i nGaeilge

Oxygen Masks Dropping

In the unlikely event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, oxygen masks will drop down from the panel above your head… Secure your own mask before helping others.

I have heard those words hundreds of times before flight takeoffs. I have never experienced having to use one of these masks and I hope that I never will. (I don't expect to be flying too often at this stage of my life). The others mentioned in the instruction are children and persons with disabilities of one kind or another who would need help. But the instruction is clear: Secure your own mask before helping others.

The introduction to today's Mass in the November 2020 issue of Magnificat, a wonderful monthly daily missal that also includes daily morning and evening prayer, reads: Why do the five wise virgins not share their oil with the five foolish ones? Because it is something that simply cannot be shared. The oil is our personal virtue. 'The wise maidens represent all those who possess the ensemble of virtues which characterise a complete Christian life. The burning oil lamps which they carry . . . symbolically portray Christian wisdom . . . This Christian wisdom empowers all those who embrace prudence and the other moral virtues to fulfil the requirements of an integral and holy life' (Fr Romanus Cessario OP). 'God, through Jesus, will bring with him those who' seek wisdom with the same ardour with which the wise virgins seek the bridegroom. For Christ is the Bridegroom.

Airlines instruct adult and able-bodied passengers to put on their own masks first. If they don't they may not be in a position to help others for whom they have a responsibility. The situation is an emergency and everything has to be done quickly. Adults are asked to behave as responsible adults.

The ten virgins in the parable are also adults, albeit young. Every one of them made a decision. The five wise virgins decided to buy the oil necessary for lighting their lamps even though they did not know when exactly they would be using them. The five foolish virgins decided not to buy the oil they needed. There was no 'emergency' as there is in a plane if the oxygen masks drop. Being ready to meet the bridegroom whenever he might arrive wasn't a priority with them. For the five wise virgins it was.

If we see the bridegroom in the parable as representing Jesus we can see that Jesus is asking us to direct our lives constantly towards him. 

I've written a number of times about 15-year-old Blessed Carlo Acutis, beatified in 2020, who used to tell his friends, The goal of my life is to always be united with Jesus

On a number of occasions I have written about Clement Shabaz Bhatti, the Catholic Pakistani politician assassinated in 2011, who wrote in his Spiritual TestimonyI want to live for Christ and it is for Him that I want to die.

These are two contemporary examples of persons ready with their lamps lit for the Bridegroom - Jesus Christ Himself - when he came.

St Charles Borromeo, the great Archbishop of Milan, whose feast day is celebrated on 4 November, said in the sermon he gave at his last synod: Or is your task the care of souls? Then do not neglect your own. Do not spend yourself so completely on other people that you have nothing left for yourself. Of course you have to look after the souls you have been put in charge of, but not to the extent that you forget your own

St Charles Borromeo Administers the Sacrament to the Plague-Infected
Caspar Franz Sambach [Web Gallery of Art]

Traditional Latin Mass

Fifth Sunday remaining After Epiphany

The Complete Mass in Latin and English is here. (Adjust the date at the top of that page to 11-12-2023 if necessary).

Epistle: Colossians 3:12-17. Gospel: Matthew 13:24-30.

Parable of the Sower
Domenico Fetti [Web Gallery of Art

But while men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away (Matthew 13:25; Gospel).

1 comment:

Mariette VandenMunckhof-Vedder said...

Dearest Father Seán,
Yes, we have to be ready and alert.
Without any oxygen ourself, we cannot help others... Guess that is the rule behind the airlines' oxygen masks.
Tomorrow we will be celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary and both of us are grateful for having made it this far!
Prayers do work.