Gio, 05 Nov 20 Lectio Divina - Anno A
Wisdom 6: 12-16 1Thes 4: 13-18 Mt 25: 1-13
This Sunday’s readings bring the usual warnings about preparation for the end of our own world, the end of our own time and our journey to another world. They tell us that a searching, watching, and growing heart is essential for a lively, dynamic Faith in God. They challenge us to check whether we are ready for these events and how we are preparing for them.
The first reading is one that personifies wisdom as a woman. The author advises Jews in Alexandria not to envy the wisdom of the pagan philosophers because they themselves have true wisdom in their Sacred Scripture, wisdom that regulates not only this life but the next also. Hence, they must live their lives in strict conformity with the Divine wisdom generously given to them by God.
In the Jewish wisdom tradition, Wisdom is one of God's closest agents, who was active in creation and who continue in the world to help the community, live according to the divine design. Wisdom of Solomon adds to this notion the idea that Wisdom will guide the soul to the goal of life, which is to live after death in the immediate presence of God.
In the book of Wisdom, we hear that "Those who are just must be kind At times; this is the opposite of the message of today's dominant world cultures. And if we examine world history, it seems that kindness often takes a back seat to aggression, selfishness, and an endless hunger for more control.
There are notable exceptions whose actions have changed the course of world history. They stand out because their stories inspire us by offering us a glimpse of what is possible when we choose to be kind. When I pause and look around, I see many people that act honestly and practice kindness. Sometimes the kindest among us have not necessarily experienced the kindness of others. Instead, they have experienced times of great difficulties and many challenges.
Comfort and hope in loss
The second reading that we have today is from the letter of St. Paul, one of the first followers of Jesus, wrote to the Christians in a town called Thessalonica. And in it, he addresses head-on those two words - confusion and despair. Here, Paul offers Christian wisdom, assuring those Christians who expected Jesus’ second coming in their lifetime that the death and Resurrection of Jesus are powerful enough to save even those who die before Jesus’ second coming. But they need to be observant, well-prepared and vigilant.
He says to them: We do not want you to be ignorant or confused about those who 'fall asleep' And we don't want you to grieve like the rest of the people, who have no hope. He is not saying that they are not to grieve, Of course, we grieve - but we need not be people who grieve with no hope.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the basis of our understanding and our hope. If Jesus did not rise from the dead, then death in its naked reality has the final word. If Jesus rose from the dead, we are in a partnership.
Paul tells us that those who are 'asleep' in the Lord will return with him. Whoever has died in the Lord is now with Him. The Apostle is writing to those whom he called “brethren”, a technical term for believers, “brothers and sisters in Christ.” This, and the words “as do the rest who have no hope,” drives home a very important truth. Only the believer in Christ can know this hope and truly experience this comfort in the face of death. This is vividly illustrated when we contrast the reactions of people who know the Lord and the Word with those who do not when they are faced with the loss of their loved ones or are facing death themselves.
Finally, Paul describes those who died as “those who have fallen asleep.” Sleep is a common figure of speech for death, which, in the New Testament, is used only of the Christian who has died. But why? What does this mean? Does this refer to the soul or the body? As you might guess, some use this passage to teach soul sleep, an idea foreign to the New Testament.
The unveiling of Heaven……
In the Gospel reading today, Jesus tells his disciples the parable of the ten virgins. This is a parable that is familiar to most of us. This parable is seen only in Mathew’s Gospel, continues the theme of watchfulness or vigilance of the previous chapter. The ten virgins took their lamps and went out to wait for the coming of the bridegroom. Jesus tells us that five of these virgins were foolish and the other five virgins were wise. In the present parable, five virgins prepared, five virgins unprepared because they do not foresee a delay at all, they are called foolish. Their foolishness is heightened by the reference to their having slept. Put in another way, they miss still another opportunity for being prepared.
The custom at the time of Jesus was that the bridegroom typically took off to party with his friends after the wedding. Then late in the night, the groom would come and collect his bride. When the bridegroom finally appeared, the custom was for the bridesmaids to light the way to his house with lamps.
Jesus’ version is a bit different. At midnight, the virgins were awakened when the sentinel cried out: “Behold, the bridegroom! Come out and welcome him!”
Immediately, all ten of the virgins went out to meet the bridegroom. However, five of the virgins had not anticipated that the bridegroom would dally or party so long. Foolishly, the virgins had not brought any extra oil for their lamps; thus, when the bridegroom finally arrived, their lamps no longer had any oil in them.
Their lamps were dark; they could not escort the bridegroom to his bride!
Now the other five virgins were wise and prudent. They had planned well and brought along some extra oil, just in case it was needed. Thus, they could escort the bridegroom to the bridal chamber.
In the Gospel parable of the ten virgins, the foolish virgins represent the “Chosen People of God” who were waiting for the Messiah but were shut out from the messianic banquet because they were unprepared. The parable teaches us that, like the five wise virgins, we should attend to duties of the present moment, preparing now, rather than waiting until it is too late.
Today’s Gospel invites us to ask ourselves: Am I wise or foolish? Or am I a bit of both, depending on the circumstances?
We have a wise person and we have a foolish person within us.
Today, we also are waiting for the bridegroom to come to each one of us. Do we have our lamps lit? Are we prepared and observant? Or has our oil been used up and our lamp dark? Or perhaps we have fallen asleep?
1) We need to be wise enough to remain ever prepared: Wise Christians find Jesus in the most ordinary experiences of daily living — in the people, they meet, the events that take place, and the situations in which they find themselves, and they carefully make their daily choices for God. They are ready to put the commandment of love into practice by showing kindness, mercy and forgiveness.
2) Let us be sure that our Lamps are ready for the end of our lives: Spiritual readiness, preparation, and growth are the result of intentional habits built into one’s life. We cannot depend on a Sunday Mass or morning service to provide all our spiritual needs. We cannot depend on Christian fellowship to provide us with spiritual development. The meeting of spiritual needs and spiritual development itself comes through routine, mundane attention to ordinary spiritual disciplines — making sure, we have enough oil or spiritual fuel: oil of compassion and mercy, oil of patience, sympathy, and forgiveness. We open ourselves to receive these graces by taking time for prayer, and being alone with God; by reading God’s Word; by living a sacramental life; by offering acts of service to others; by moral faithfulness, by loving obedience, and by spending time with other Christians for mutual prayer, study and encouragement especially during these time of Covid -19. When we receive the graces we need, we thank God for His generous love. As taking these ways it becomes habitual, they cease to be a struggle and begin to be a source of strength and blessing. They make our lives powerful against the onslaught of the world.
in this Gospel, the parable has five well-prepared, wise women.
Every brother and sister who sincerely believes in the Lord hopes to be a wise virgin who can welcome the return of the Lord Jesus, our Savior, in the last days, and attend the feast with Him. To this end, some people often read the Bible, pray and stay wide-awake and prepared, some people work hard, make donations and expend themselves, and some people punctually attend gatherings and wait attentively for the coming of the Lord, and so on. Every one of us prepares, expends ourselves and waits in our own way, and we strongly believe that, we are the wise virgins and that we will certainly be able to welcome the return of the Lord. Yet, nowadays, there are more and more occurrences of famines, plagues and earthquakes all over the world, wars are breaking out all the time and there are frequent appearances of the awe-inspiring blood moons;
the omens presaging the Lord’s return have now basically been fulfilled and, as should be expected, the Lord should return. We have stayed alert and prepared for so many years, however, so how come we have not yet welcomed the Lord? Some brothers and sisters cannot help but begin to worry: “Is our preparing oil in this way at odds with the Lord’s will? What exactly are the wise virgins? And what are the foolish virgins? How should the wise virgins prepare oil in order to welcome the Lord and attend the wedding feast of the Lamb?”
From this, we can see that the wise virgins were wise because they took heed to listen to God’s voice and, once they were able to understand God’s voice, they were then able to accept the truth and welcome the appearance of God. The foolish virgins, however, were the exact opposite. They did not understand God’s voice, and so even though they heard the utterances of truth, they still did not go forth to seek, they did not accept them, and they did not submit to them. They just stubbornly clung to their own conceptions and imaginings and they rejected the appearance and work of God, and thus, ultimately, they lost God’s salvation. This sufficiently proves that whether or not one can become a wise virgin, it is not predicated upon how long one has believed in God, how much knowledge of the Bible one understands, how much one appears to work and toil, or how much one suffers or expends oneself, but rather it is predicated upon whether or not one takes heed to listen to God’s voice and whether or not one can understand it.