Ordinary 32nd Sunday
Ordinary 32nd Sunday
Wis 6: 12 – 16 1Thes 4: 13-18 Mt 25: 1-13
If we open up ourselves to Jesus, the wisdom of God, our lives will be better and happier.
The great emperor Akbar used to go around his kingdom in disguise, as was the custom of the kings of those days. The purpose of such visits was to collect ordinary people’s perception of his government and governance. On one such visit, he happened to see a plenty of handicapped people and witness their tremendous sufferings. He decided to help them. He ordered his ministers to collect all the handicapped people of his kingdom on a particular day in order to provide them with some monetary help. But the problem was that on that day, even ordinary healthy people faked themselves as handicapped in order to get the king’s help. The crowd was too huge to handle. Akbar did not know how to deal with the problem. He turned to Birbal. Birbal came in front of the crowd and announced, “Here the crowd is too much. So all of you kindly go to the nearby ground. Those who come first will be rewarded first.” The fake ones ran fast to the ground. Those who could not move fast were easily identified and helped. Akbar appreciated Birbal for his wisdom and insight.
Wisdom is something that helps us to live our lives fruitfully and solve our problems creatively. Wisdom is something that can help us to live our lives better and happier. The book of the Wisdom of Solomon speaks of various characteristics of wisdom. Wisdom is radiant and unfading (6: 12); Because of its purity, it pervades and penetrates all things (7: 24); Even if a person is perfect on all the other accounts, he is nothing if he does not have wisdom (9:6); It reveals to us what is pleasing and right in God’s sight (9: 18); Wisdom rescues people from their trouble (10: 9); It also delivers one from sin (10: 13); It can also deliver one from oppression (10: 15). No further explanation is needed to show how this wisdom is a necessary pre-requisite for a happy life.
In order to make wisdom of God ours, there are a few things which we need to do. The first reading enumerates those requisites: (a). We need to have love towards it. (“she is easily discerned by those who love her” – 6: 12); (b). We need to seek for it. (Wisdom “is found by those who seek her”- 6: 12). (c). Morning is the best time to find it. (“One who rises early to seek her will have no difficulty” – 6: 14); (d). One has to realize that wisdom is not somewhere far away, but it is very near to oneself (“for she will be found sitting at the gate” – 6: 14); (e). We need to constantly prepare ourselves to receive wisdom. (“she goes about seeking those worthy of her, and she graciously appears to them in their paths, and meets them in every thought” – 6: 16).
We all know and believe that this wisdom got incarnated in this world in the person of Jesus. “Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God” proclaims St. Paul (1Cor 1: 24). What the author of the book of the Wisdom of Solomon explains in reference to wisdom, can be equally applied to Jesus, the wisdom of God.
In order to experience Christ in our lives and build up a deepr relationship with him, first of all we need to have love towards him. Jesus says, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them (Jn 14:23). Secondly, when we intently search for him, we will find him. Jesus’ words ‘Seek and you will find’ (Mt 7: 7) invite us to seek Him and His Kingdom, and also give us the strong hope that we will find him. Thirdly, morning is the best time for meditation to experience God’s presence. In Indian tradition, early morning is known as Brahma-muhurtam, which is considered to be auspicious for meditation. This is the time in which the atmosphere contains so much of fresh energy which facilitates our search for God immensely.
Fourthly, when we seek Jesus with whole heartedness, we will understand that He is not somewhere far away, but very close to us. “Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me” are the self-assuring words of Jesus (Rev 3: 20). Finally, it is important that we need to prepare ourselves in order to meet him. It is not enough that we have got the desire to experience and seek for him. It is also important that we make ourselves worthy of him by way of being in touch with the Holy Spirit.
In today’s gospel, we see five virgins not having oils. In the Bible ‘oil’ is one of the symbols for the Holy Spirit. For example, it is said that when David was anointed with oil, the Spirit of the Lord descended upon him. (“Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the presence of his brothers; and the spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward.” – 1Sam 16: 13). So when it is said that the five virgins were bereft of oil, it simply means that they did not listen to the promptings of the Spirit.
In the second reading, we see St. Paul urging the Thessalonians to be ready to meet Jesus, who St. Paul believed would come for the second time soon. We can see the following three stages in the understanding of St. Paul with regard to the second coming of Jesus. Firstly, St. Paul seems to have believed that Jesus would come very soon (1Thess 4: 16,17). This he expressed in his first letter to the Thessalonians, his very first letter. Though the purpose of St. Paul was to make the Thessalonians get prepared to meet Jesus, it bore an inadvertent result: It made the Thessalonians lazy. Their understanding was: ‘if Jesus is going to come too soon, what is the need to work?’ So St. Paul began to instruct them that Jesus would come soon, but not immediately (2Thess 2: 2,3). This is the second stage. His final understanding of parousia was: ‘We don’t know when he will come. Our job is to be ready always.’
Prayer from Native American Tradition
O Great Spirit, whose voice I hear in the winds and whose breath gives life to all the world, hear me. I am small and weak. I need your strength and wisdom, Amen