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Select Exegesis
November, 12 2017

32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

Rev Timothy P. Schehr

Wisdom 6:12-16 1 Thess 4:13-18 Matthew 25:1-13


            We all know how much planning goes into a wedding. Nearly every detail is thought over carefully. There is the rehearsed beforehand. By the time the ceremony actually begins there is hardly anything that has been overlooked. That is how Jesus wants us to think about the kingdom of heaven. He wants us to rehearse for it over and over again so nothing is overlooked.

            To encourage us as we make our preparations, Jesus gives us the example of five wise women. Each one of them was a bridesmaid in a wedding party and each one of them arrived well prepared, even bringing along a flask of oil to ensure their lamps were burning brightly when the groom arrived for the wedding feast.

            The obvious lesson here is that each of us should do all we can to ensure that our spiritual lamps are burning brightly when it is time for us to greet the Lord at the end of time. Like those wise women we should make sure we have a spiritual flask of extra oil for our lamps too. What would such a flask look like? Our Lord’s Sermon of the Mount (Matthew 5) offers plenty of clues. We can start with the beatitudes and work from there.

            The Lord’s parable also includes five not-so-wise bridesmaids. They had their lamps burning brightly too. But they thought they knew when the groom was arriving for the feast. So they did not bother bringing any extras. If they had just gone a little further in their preparations they would have been ready for the celebration. As it turned out their lamps were going out when the groom arrived. That’s how close they came to being ready; they almost made it.

            There are some famous “almosts” in the Bible.  Moses almost made it into the Promised Land. Peter almost made it as he walked towards Jesus on the sea. The rich young man almost had what it takes to follow Jesus who told him he was not far from the kingdom of heaven. These “almosts” could have been successes  if they had just put a little more effort into their relationship with God.

            The author of the Book of Wisdom knew all about “almosts.” This sage also knew how much God wants to give us every advantage to reach our goal. We can observe this in the first reading as  Lady Wisdom—representing God’s saving grace in the world-- makes every effort to find us. All we have to do is display some interest in looking for Lady Wisdom and there she is.  She hastens in our direction; she is ready to greet us. God does not play some hide-and-seek game with us but is always working to bring us home to the kingdom of heaven.

            Paul picks up this theme in the second reading as he talks about our union with God at the end of time. Paul is writing to the church in Thessalonica. In fact this is the first known letter from that famous apostle to the Gentiles. It comes less than two decades after Jesus rose from dead. The church members in Thessalonica expect Jesus to arrive at any moment. But they worry about family members already deceased. What will become of them? Will they share in the Lord’s banquet or have they missed out?

            Paul consoles them with the news that those who sleep in death will rise first. Then the living will be caught up with them in the clouds. So Paul assures his worried church members that there is no need to worry. The faithful will always be with the Lord. Until then we can make sure we have plenty of spiritual fuel to keep our lamps burning brightly for the Lord.

©Rev. Tim Schehr

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