Homily for the thirty-second Sunday in the year

Year A  -  Mt. 25:1-13


by

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.»"



Homily:


"Jesus said:  «Then the kingdom of heaven shall be compared to ten maidens who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom.»"

On the day of the Ascension, Jesus ascended into heaven, and he is now seated at the right hand of the Father, established forever in endless glory:  since the day of his entry into heaven, the Son of God made Man receives from his Father an infinite glory which constitutes him as the Lord and Master of all Creation!  But this glory is not for Jesus alone, for, as Man, the Son of God is our mediator with the Father.  Thus, the glory of the Son of God is also for all those who have merited the right to share in it for all eternity.  Like a treasure, the glory of the Lord Jesus is a good that must be earned through meritorious deeds:  he who would possess it must be victorious in the combat of faith, by going unquestioningly to Jesus himself, who calls us to himself through his almighty word.

"The kingdom of heaven shall be compared to ten maidens who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom."  These ten maidens represent all those who wish to go to their spouse, Christ, and share in the glory of the Father with him.  These ten maidens have received the grace of God, which allows them to go to the spouse, as Jesus had said to his disciples:  "No one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father." (Jn. 6:65)  We, too, have received the grace of God at our baptism;  or we have recovered it through the sacrament of penance, if we had unfortunately lost it during our life.  And now, each time that we participate in the Eucharist, we are permitted to anticipate this mystical union with our spouse, Christ:  each time that we approach the altar, through the grace and mercy of God, the Kingdom of Heaven offers itself to us and the glory of the Lord is offered to us so that we may share in it.  Our condition as Christians is different from the conditions of all the other men and women in the world:  let us thank the Lord for this, for all eternity!

"«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.'»"

If we must go to Christ in order to share in his glory, there will also be a time when Jesus must come to us:  his return at the end of time.  So, our movement or journey toward the Lord is founded on that of Jesus himself, so much so that these two movements will be but one:  that of Jesus drawing all the elect to the abode of glory! "For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the archangel's call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first; then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air." (1 Thess. 4:16-17)

"«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.'»"

All our Christian life is a life of faith in God.  If we make an effort to please God in all things, living for him, seeking his glory and not our own, it is because we believe that God exists and that, in Jesus, he has revealed himself to us so that we may know him with a knowledge of love.  Saint John wrote, in his first epistle, "We know and believe the love God has for us.  God is love." (1 Jn. 4:16)  Our movement toward God is one of faith, accomplished through the grace of God, in love.  But it is a personal journey, for faith is personal, and it is not shared.  Each of us is responsible for his own faith, and no one else can believe in our place:  if we believe, it is all of our person, and our person alone, who is responsible.  This is what the Lord wanted to express in the parable of the ten maidens:  the five wise maidens kept the faith in the coming of the spouse until the moment of his return, but it is impossible for them to share this faith with the five other maidens, for these five wise maidens have just enough faith (oil) for themselves.

"«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.'»"

Ever since sin entered the world, there are men and women who believe in God, and others who do not believe.  And among those who believe, there are those who believe until the end of their life, and others who give up along the way.  Here, the Lord seems to be telling us the proportion between the size of one group and the other:  there are five maidens who persevere until the end, and five others who give up along the way.  This comes down to half on one side, and half on the other.  If the proportion is the same for those who believe in God compared to those who do not believe - that is, if half of all men and women believe in God, and the other half don't believe - then the proportion of the elect of God would seem to be one quarter of the men and women called by the Lord to share in his eternal glory.  "Many are called, few are chosen." (Mt. 22:14)  "Strive to enter by the narrow door;  for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the householder has risen up and shut the door, you will begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, `Lord, open to us.' He will answer you, `I do not know where you come from.' " (Lk. 13:24-25)

With Mary, the Mother of Holy Hope, let us thank the Lord for this precious gift of faith!  With Mary, let us pray for our perseverence and for the conversion of the entire world!  "If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, `Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you!" (Mt. 17:20)