Wise and Foolish Virgins, Homily

Homily, Nov 11&12, Cyc A, 32nd Ordinary, Wise & Foolish Virgins

As we listen to the First Reading today from the Book of Wisdom, we realize that in the OT, Wisdom was another name for the Holy Spirit.

Also in the OT, Wisdom is referred to as “She”. I felt compelled to mention that fact for the sake of the men here who did not catch that. I assure you that every woman here did.

As the first reading unfolds we hear that “Wisdom, i.e. the Holy Spirit, will not disappoint those who watch for her at dawn. And, whoever keeps vigil shall be rewarded.”

Amazing how that leads us right into today’s Gospel from Matthew about the 10 virgins who kept vigil for the coming of the bridegroom.

To put this Gospel in context we must understand that it is Jesus’ final words to His disciples. One more week and Jesus will start to refer to, and prepare His disciples for, His death.

We give special credence to things that people say or do as they prepare to die, because a dying person wants to impart some special love or wisdom—something important—before they leave us.

This Judgment Discourse, this Gospel, has significance as Jesus’ final words to his disciples—the most important wisdom that he could possibly provide them.

He is saying in no uncertain terms that He will come back to them. He tells them a parable about the coming of a bridegroom and of the 10 virgins who waited for Him with their lamps.

Five brought just enough oil for their lamps. Five brought more than enough oil for theirs. When the bridegroom was delayed in coming, the first five ran out of oil, while the second five used their extra and were gathered into the party with the bridegroom.

Now the theme of the parable is very simple. It is not complex. The parable is meant to teach us that Jesus, like the bridegroom, will come again. And, in that second coming He is coming to judge sinners and to reward the righteous.

Further, He will come in a sudden and unexpected moment and everyone should be prepared. Afterwards, there will be no second chance. People may knock on the door all they want, but the door will be shut.

When God the Father sent the prophets and teachers before sending His son to us the first time, they spread the word about what to look for to recognize the son because as a people we have a poor track record when it comes to recognizing Him.

Think about that, we don’t even recognize His presence in other people today.

The prophets and Teachers said the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. He was. Born of a virgin. He was. Of the line of David. He was. They said He would come to Galilee. He did. They said He would have great power. He had it.

But the world still was not prepared and not ready. And so, ‘He came unto His own’, says John, and His own received Him not. He was in the world and the world was made by Him, but the world knew Him not.

And this parable today warns the world not to let that happen in His Second Coming. For there will be no recourse in the future.

Jesus is coming again, and we are to be prepared. We are to have an expectancy in our hearts. We are to get up figuratively before dawn to prepare ourselves before our day begins.

We are to keep a vigil so as to not be caught unawares. We can read scripture, serve others, say rosaries, use contemplative prayer, go to Mass and the Eucharist, always keeping our hearts open to hear the Lord.

Each of us has his own way of relating to the Lord. We are unique in how we discern His communication with us. We learn that over time as we live life, mostly in a trial and error fashion.

The real problem is the “not knowing when” and it is hard to stay alert over a long period of time. That was the problem with His first coming.

Yes, the prophets and teachers kept warning the people, but as time stretched on and on you could say that the people’s lamps ran dry.

The oil in our lamps is the actual and sanctifying grace that comes our way as we make our efforts to draw closer to the Lord Jesus.

So, our hope is to be a people of God, working hard every day to be more and more like Him. We can fill our lamps with the oil of grace by being His people, by staying close to Him, making time every day to listen to Him in our hearts.