HOMILY FOR 32ND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – YEAR A
THEME: TO BE WARNED IS TO BE ARMED
BY: Father Anthony O. Ezeaputa, MA
Our gospel passage today (Matthew 25:1–13) is the parable of the five wise and five foolish bridesmaids. It’s a warning from Jesus to stay awake because he will arrive when we least expect it.
Aside from that, today’s parable is an opportunity to reflect on two contemporary issues and a disturbing behavior that may hinder our readiness for the arrival of the bridegroom, like the foolish brides.
Weddings and wedding celebrations during the time of Jesus were huge events that lasted for a week. Traditionally, the festivities begin with a grand procession of the two lovebirds. As opposed to the practice today, the venue and time of the wedding were not pre-announced.
Back then, the groom would go to his bride’s house to negotiate with her father. Following the negotiation, he would take his bride to his home to celebrate. In either his or his bride’s father’s home, a procession of bridesmaids carrying lighted lamps greeted the groom, or both the bride and groom.
But it happened that the groom arrived at midnight. The bridesmaids were aroused at once: “Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!” Five of the bridesmaids had enough oil for their lamps, and five others had to go to the merchants to procure more oil. But when they returned, it was too late. The wedding hall door was closed.
It is normal today to find people who think that the five wise bridesmaids should have shared their oil with the other five. But the oil in today’s parable is something that can’t be put in a bottle and given to someone else, like a loving relationship with God or the good works we have done. It cannot be given to someone else.
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And Jesus warns us, “Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” The phrase “stay awake” means paying close attention to what God is always telling us at each moment. It is to be as ready as a boy scout, for we never know when Jesus will return.
However, there is a can of worms in contemporary society that works against the injunction to stay awake. If you are not attentive, they have the power to make you unprepared, as did the five bridesmaids who were caught without enough oil for their lamps when the bridegroom arrived.
A contemporary parable says that Lucifer, ruler of hell and king of the devils, was upset that less and less people were going to hell. He thought that evil needed a major makeover if his devils were to bring more people from the twenty-first century to hell. Thus, Lucifer called a meeting of his devils.
At their meeting, they agreed on a three-point strategy that they would roll out in stages. The first stage will be a denial of God’s existence, then sexual immorality, particularly internet pornography, and finally the word “later.”
The devils went around telling people that there was no heaven or hell and no reward or punishment in the afterlife. They expected people to be overjoyed that they were now free of God, that they could be as selfish as they wanted, and that the universe revolved around them.
However, their strategy was not as successful as they had hoped. Most people have moved on from the debate over the existence of God and the afterlife. Lucifer thus gave the order to carry out the second strategy and dispatched the devils to Earth.
The devils started luring people into objectifying one another and watching porn on the internet. Porn sites were becoming increasingly popular, and people were becoming addicted to and obsessed with porn. And, indeed, the second strategy drew souls into hell, but not in the way Lucifer anticipated. As a result, Lucifer directed the implementation of the third strategy.
The devils assured people that they should commit their lives to God, stop watching porn, love one another, forgive those who offend them, live the gospel, and speak out against injustice, but they could do all these things later. And hell was overflowing with people.
We can all agree that living as if there is no God and no accountability for our actions is a major challenge to the instruction to stay vigilant. Heaven and hell exist. We will give an account of our lives at the end of our lives.
It is so nice that nowadays almost everyone owns a smartphone. However, improper use of technology has led to an increase in sexual immorality, notably on the internet, among other contemporary crimes. Unfortunately, it threatens the divine order to stay awake.
Finally, procrastination has become a way of life for many people. Nowadays, it appears that most people know what they should do but prefer to put it off forever.
Today’s parable is both an exhortation and a warning. And, as the saying goes, to be warned is to be armed. So, let us make hay while the sun shines so we don’t get caught off guard like the foolish bridesmaids.
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