HOMILY FOR THE 32ND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – YEAR A
THEME: LAMPS WITHOUT OIL : THE TRAGEDY OF SPIRITUAL UNPREPAREDNESS!
By: Fr. Benedict Agbo
* Wis 6 : 12 – 16, 1 Thess 4 : 13 – 18, Matt 26 : 1 – 13.
The chief concern of today’s Liturgy is to help us (as we gradually come to the end of the Church’s liturgical year) form a truly Christian mentality about how we ought to live in this world so that we will be best prepared for life in the world to come. Wisdom is not mere knowledge /intelligence. It is superior to it. It is a disposition of openness and attentiveness to meanings. To be wise is to put everything in its proper perspective – to take the long view about life and its meaning – to see that there is a tomorrow and that there is God in that tomorrow.To be wise is to be attentive to what Jesus has done for us and what he is still doing for us now in the sacraments, especially in the Eucharist and sacrament of reconciliation. Vima Dasan says : ‘If you lack knowledge, you go to school ; if you lack wisdom, get on your knees’.
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B. THE WISDOM FOR THE EXTRA OIL A wise Christian will always ask : ‘Do I have the extra oil to nourish my faith?’, since faith without good works is dead, Js 2 : 17. In today’s gospel we have the great parable of the 10 virgins ; five of them wise and the other five foolish.
Context : In the Jewish bridal company, no maiden is ever allowed on the streets after dark without a lighted lamp and late comers are not admitted. It was therefore a tragedy for the foolish virgins not to have kerosene in their lamps, Matt 26 : 1 – 13.
The wise virgins were reflective enough to have anticipated the possibility of lateness of the bridegroom. That reflection paid off because, on that fateful night, the bridegroom arrived late and because of their foresight, they had enough oil. A foresighted Christian while waiting for the Lord keeps always awake so that whenever he comes he may find him awake and welcome him into his glory.
Lamp could denote the Christian ‘profession’of faith common to all but the extra oil is the spiritual readiness to meet the Lord, the active presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives manifesting in good works. It is the sublime tragedy of the Christian life to face our God on the last day unprepared.
Insufficiency of oil shows abuse of graces provided by the Church’s Ministry of the Word and Sacraments. According to Fr Alexander Eze ( in his commentary on Nsukka diocesan bulletin of today), “Folly consists not in having no oil at all but in not making provision for its exhaustion”. Those who stop coming to masses, stop listening to the Word of God / making efforts to obey it and stop praying fervently for the grace of holiness have a lot in common with the foolish virgins of today’s gospel pericope.
(i) There are certain things which cannot be obtained on the last minute eg a student who has a serious examination to write cannot begin a night to the exam day to make preparations. So it is in spiritual matters. We must avoid bad habits that may make repentance difficult. Remember the story of Lazarus and the rich man, Lk 16 : 19 – 31.
(ii) There are certain things which cannot be borrowed from others eg a man cannot borrow a relationship with God overnight. We cannot completely depend on the spiritual capital of others. That is why the foolish virgins couldn’t receive the request of oil they made in today’s gospel. Those who chose begging as the only option when they have so many things they can do to survive may suffer the same fate as the foolish virgins.
Our deepest concern if we are wise is where we will spend eternity. Shall we spend it in the company of God and our departed loved ones (like the wise virgins) or remain forever separated (like the foolish virgins)? To be wise is to put everything in its proper time and perspective – to set our priorities right. We determine our destiny and that of our children by the daily choices we make. So, we need to live a life of wisdom and foresight.
Happy Sunday dear friends!
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