32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time
Wisdom 6:12-16; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Matthew 25:1-13
As we come to the end of the church year, our readings remind us of the end times, and today’s gospel is no exception. We are reminded to be spiritually ready and prepared for what comes next, especially our own final end in death. These reminders are especially poignant as we are living with the results of the pandemic, remembering all the lives lost throughout the world in the past 8 months.
What does this story of 1st century Palestine Jewish wedding customs have to say to us today? Traditionally, the groom negotiated for the bride with her father and family. The bartering could go on for days, a sign that the bride was indeed treasured. When both sides came to an agreement, the groom and his family attendants would arrive to take the bride to his home. Then the party would begin!
However, when the time came, half the women were locked out because they weren’t ready after all their waiting; their lamps had gone out. Instead, they were at the store when it was time to enter the feast. How could this story have worked out differently? Could the women have been more prepared? Could they have changed and thought and planned ahead?
Looking to the first reading, I believe the emphasis is on being wise. Being wise in terms of Jesus means knowing that we are all waiting, and that this waiting is with the assurance that he will come; the waiting is not just a waste of time. And part of the waiting is having the oil to greet the bridegroom.
How do you wait? I’m usually impatient, trying to find the shortest line, the smallest crowd, the quickest way in and out. During these past 8 months, I have come to see the graces of waiting, of slowing down, of being attentive. I am more present to the One who will come, even though I don’t know when.
We still have time to change. The door is not locked for us yet. God is available to us now with the gift of Wisdom, to show us what we must still do to keep a good supply of oil. We acknowledge our need and dependence upon God so that we may be able to shed the light of our faith on the world. May we be ready, living the life that Jesus recommended in last week’s scriptures: being peaceful, and kind, and merciful… as we await our end time.
Sr. Mary Ann Collins, OP