Homily for the thirty-second Sunday of the year - Year A - Mt. 25:1-13
Father Daniel Meynen
"Jesus said: 'Then the kingdom of heaven shall be compared to ten maidens who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, 'Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.' Then all those maidens rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.' But the wise replied, 'Perhaps there will not be enough for us and for you; go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.' And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast; and the door was shut. Afterward the other maidens came also, saying, 'Lord, lord, open to us.' But he replied, 'Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.' Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.' "
"Jesus said: 'Then the kingdom of heaven shall be compared to ten maidens who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom.' "
As is true every year, the approaching end of the liturgical year is marked by passages from Holy Scripture that evoke the end of time and the Return in Glory of Christ the Savior: the end of one period of time, the liturgical year, in a way announces the end of time. And, today, the Church proposes to us a parable: that of the ten maidens who go to meet the groom, that is, Christ, the mystical Spouse of the Church.
" 'Five of them were foolish, and five were wise.' "
These few words indicate the context of the parable. It deals with wisdom, and thus more generally, with knowledge. Now, this context is proper to the end of time. In fact, the Return of Christ will be the moment of the Resurrection of bodies, as well as that of the new Creation, that is, the Creation that is renewed, purified, sanctified in the Word of Life. At the moment of Christ's return, the first Creation will be, in a way, regenerated, along with all of its attributes. Now, what characterized the first Creation was knowledge, science, wisdom, symbolized notably by the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that was planted in the middle of the terrestrial Paradise (cf. Gen. 2:9). So, similarly, the new creation, and with it, or even before it, by way of preparation, the time announcing the Second Coming of Christ, will be characterized by this same knowledge or wisdom.
Besides this, one may note that the well-being of peoples, throughout human history, has not varied much throughout the millennia: there are always the rich and the poor, there are always unpunished injustices and imprisoned innocents, etc... On the other hand, human knowledge, science in all its forms, has undergone a strong growth, above all in the last few decades, a growth that continues at an exponential rate. The further we advance in time, the more knowledge of every kind increases, precisely because the further on time advances, the closer we get to the end of time, which is characterized by this same notion of knowledge...
" 'For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.' "
The ten maidens set out to meet the bridegroom. Where do they go? On the road, the road of life... They go to meet the bridegroom! When a great personage is on his way to visit us, we do not remain at home, waiting for him. We leave our home and go to meet him, at our front gate, or even out in the street, if necessary walking a certain distance to go and meet our guest...
Now it is night... Otherwise, the ten maidens would not need the light from their lamps. The ten maidens are in the night of faith: they believe that the bridegroom comes, but they do not see him... The bridegroom could have arrived immediately, in which case all the maidens would still have had their lamps lit. Things could have gone otherwise... But the fact is that the bridegroom is late in coming... The ten maidens doze off, for the length of their journey had tired them. A curious sleep! It reminds one of that which overtook Peter, James and John on the night when Jesus underwent his agony. It truly seems that whenever Jesus is at the point of entering into his Glory, whether through his own resurrection, or at his Return at the end of time, the men and women of the world all decide to fall asleep, so little regard do they have for the Glory of God...
"But at midnight there was a cry, 'Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.' "
Who cried out? The Holy Spirit, of course! Is it not he who is the Spirit of Wisdom, the Spirit of Counsel, the Spirit of Knowledge? For, as Saint Paul says, "No one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God." (1 Cor. 2:11) However, "God is spirit" (Jn. 4:24) says Saint John. This is true. But he has at his disposal angels and creatures to give men and women all the warnings and counsel he judges to be good to give them. Let us recall the apparition of angels at the first birth of the Son of God (cf. Lk. 2:9). God will act in a similar way at the second birth of his Son, that is to say the birth to eternal life of all those who will then make up the Body of Christ.
"Then all those maidens rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.' But the wise replied, 'Perhaps there will not be enough for us and for you; go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.' "
The wise maidens had brought some oil with them, whereas the foolish ones had not. Would this not be because the wise maidens already knew approximately how long they would have to wait for the bridegroom? In other words, is it not probable that the wise maidens knew more or less when the bridegroom would return? For are these not wise maidens who are enlightened by the light of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Wisdom and Counsel?
What is this oil that enlightens, if not the oil of the Wisdom of God? "You are the light of the world" (Mt. 5:14) says Jesus. How can we shine in the eyes of the world if we do not have upon our forehead this oil of the Holy Spirit, this oil that confirms us in the Spirit of Knowledge and Love? For it is the fire of the Love of God that illuminates the world through the children of God united in the Word of Life!
And who are the dealers, if not the vendors of false wisdom, false science, deceptive knowledge, which is far, very far from the Knowledge of Love which is that of the Spirit of God?
"And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast; and the door was shut. Afterward the other maidens came also, saying, 'Lord, lord, open to us.' But he replied, 'Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.' "
"Afterward the other maidens came also." Why do the foolish maidens arrive late? Simply because they have not exercised foresight. They are foolish and improvident. They are the symbol of those who do not care about the Return of Christ. They act as if the following article of the Creed did not exist: "I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come." I believe it, we believe it: we look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come, which is nothing other than Christ in person.
Besides, the foolish maidens went to the oil dealers, that is, to the merchants of wisdom... Now the Wisdom of God is not something that is sold: it is received free of charge, freely. So these merchants are merchants in human wisdom... But what could merchants of human wisdom have to say about the Return of Christ? They will certainly say that Christ will return at some later time, as late as possible, perhaps never... For they are merchants: all that interests them is money, not the true wisdom of God, and even less so the end of time...
" 'Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.' "
This is supreme wisdom! This sentence of Jesus should guide us every day of our life, for in it resides supreme wisdom: that of expecting, each day, our own meeting with the Son of God! Each day may be the last of our life, each day is one in which we may live the end of time, the end of a time, the end of the time of our life!
May the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, the most wise Virgin there is, intercede for us before her divine son, in order that the Holy Spirit might always be given to us at the opportune time!
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