Gospel Reflection Nov 8 – Deacon Frank
Sunday, November 8
Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Matthew 25: 1-13
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.”
The end of the world has always been a great “moneymaker,” at least in the hands of fiery preachers, novelists, and screenwriters. The event itself will probably be considerably less lucrative, because even the well-to-do will not be able to buy their way out of what lies in store for all of us. But for the time being, anyone with sufficient imagination to cobble together the required elements for an end-times scenario—apocalyptic disasters, four dark horsemen, a mesmerizing Beast, and plenty of I-told-you-so’s—can start a franchise of books, movies, or congregations based on the frightening idea that everything we know and everyone we love is coming to an end. The concept sells, certainly, but the question thoughtful Christians will be asking is: What am I to believe about the last things? What does scripture and the church have to say about the end of the world?
In this weekend’s Gospel, the parable of the 10 virgins, Jesus offers a story compatible with the “already/not yet” vision of realized afterlife. This story of the coming of the Bridegroom is most certainly an event for the future, and yet the implications of his coming are urgent for the present. Being prepared now means admittance to the banquet later. Time may be linear, but past, present, and future flow together in cause and effect.
When I was growing up on the east side of Columbus in Saint Catharine Parish my pastor, Good Ol’ Msgr Joe Casey, used to say, “Don’t wait till you die to go to heaven.” This is the spirit of end-times that won’t stay put at the end of the line. Purgation is something we consciously choose now, just as we might also choose the way of justice, peace, joy, gratefulness, humility, and love. We don’t have to worry about the so-called Rapture, salvation and damnation, heaven, and hell, and what’s going to happen after we die. What rightfully concerns us is the choice we’re making in the present hour, the oil we have in our lamps today, and whether we carry the Bridegroom in our hearts.
If we’re in Christ today, we’re in Christ for keeps.
-Deacon Frank Iannarino