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WE MUST BE PREPARED FOR THE LORD’S COMING

Father Francis's picture
Twenty-first Week in Ordinary Time

1 Cor. 1-17-25 & Mt. 25:1-13

The city of Corinth was a cosmopolitan centre in the first century, similar to places like today’s London or New York. There was some influence of Greek philosophy but the people were worldly wise who would not easily take to the Gospel. It was a miracle of grace that St Paul could win even a few converts there and it was not surprising that some of them began to fall away - Christianity is not a doctrine which appeals to the worldly wise!

St Thomas Aquinas says that people generally consider anything they do not understand to be foolishness. Imagine telling the people of the nineteenth century that one day men in space ships would fly to the moon. St Paul's teaching to the Corinthians must have seemed equally absurd. What is the sense in following a leader who was jeered and spat at by a frenzied crowd and who was put to death in an outpost of the Roman Empire? Roman soldiers who were sent to Judea considered their mission as a demotion or punishment. Could any good come from that insignificant country? And yet no matter now absurd it seemed, Paul insisted, “We preach Christ crucified.”

God's ways are different from ours. He brings strength out of weakness and life out of death. At every Mass we have an example of how God works: Jesus takes two of the simplest things possible, bread and wine, and transforms them into His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. Only God has that power. Then He gives them to us as our spiritual nourishment. Only God could think of something like that. And most marvellous of all, we do not assimilate this food and drink into ourselves, but Christ assimilates us to Himself. He transforms us so that for us suffering will turn to joy and death will lead to everlasting life.

There are certain things in life that cannot be borrowed. In today's Gospel Jesus tells us a story about five bridesmaids who realised this.

Along with five other young women it was their task to meet the bridegroom and escort him to the wedding. Since the celebration was at night each carried a lamp. The groom delayed and did not arrive until midnight. By that time their lamps were running low on fuel.

The five sensible bridesmaids had allowed for just such an emergency and brought along an extra supply of oil. The foolish five had not. They tried to solve their problem by borrowing from the others but their request was turned down. That refusal seems selfish and uncaring, but it tells us a truth about life.

There are times when a crisis comes and we have to depend on our own resources. Life allows us to borrow from one another in minor affairs but in the great moments, when we face the most important issues, we have only what we have brought with us. We receive many things from our parents, from our family and friends. But some of life's most important things cannot be borrowed. We have to earn them or build them ourselves. This truth makes us individually responsible for the quality of our own lives.

In the same way we must take responsibility for building up our spiritual resources. Like the wise bridesmaids we know where the supply is to be found. Daily prayer, hearing Mass, receiving the sacraments - these are the oil we need for our lamps, but we must go and obtain it for ourselves.

Lord Jesus, make us vigilant and attentive to Your voice that we may heed Your call at all times. May we find joy in Your presence and delight in doing Your will.

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