November 8, 2020 – 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/110820.cfm)
The first reading was very interesting. We have heard that Wisdom was personified by a “she,” by a woman who hastens to make herself known to us in anticipation of our desire to have her. Wisdom even makes her rounds, “seeking those worthy of her, and graciously appears to us with great attention and care.” This is a sign of intimacy from God being shown to us. This image actually makes me remember of my own experience with my mother, surely with your own mothers too. Usually, if not most of the time, a mother always knows what her son or daughter needs and wants. As soon as I pronounce the word, “Ma,” my mother knows what I need.
This is wisdom described to us in the first reading. Now, wisdom is innate in each of us as we are created in God’s image and likeness, who is the source of wisdom. Our Psalm reveals what is innate in each of us. Our Psalm says, “My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.” Yes, our human heart is designed to long for God, to be with God. Acknowledging our “thirst for God” is in fact the beginning of Wisdom which makes us become conscious of the importance of God in our life. Wisdom is also faith because it leads us to believe in God who has been “seeking to find us.”
Let us remember this, that God seeks to find us as wisdom has been seeking for us in anticipation of our desire to find her. This is a hint for us that though God seeks to find us first, yet God wants something from us also – and that is to have “the desire to long for him.” It means acknowledging our desire for God. It is in recognizing our desire for God that our heart will keep burning. Our desire to be with God makes us hopeful, generous and joyful as we wait to welcome the Lord in our life.
This is basically what our Gospel is teaching us today. The Parable of the 10 virgins gives us the image of people who lose hope and forget their desire for God and people who hope against adversities and difficulties and still remember their desire to welcome God in their life.
Thus, the Gospel actually assures as that in our Christian life we may fail, we may fall asleep in the middle of the night because we have become so tired from waiting for the Lord, because our prayers remain unanswered, because you have failed several times in your exams despite your reviews and daily devotion, or your partner or family member is still problematic despite the prayer intentions you have offered, or until now you are not yet healed from your illness which gives you suffering despite the many “pamisa” you’ve made, or your loved one was taken away from you because of a sudden death even though you have been a good catholic, or because this pandemic is taking too long to disappear and your job or business is losing and you have grown tired from this quarantine and in following the protocols while powerful political people in our country enjoy the comforts of life yet people are growing hungry, homeless and sick, etc.
These experiences are truly disappointing. They discourage us and so we feel that our faith is weakened. This happens when we lose our desire for God and tend to focus more on our personal wants, personal assurance of comfort and security.
This was the situation of the five foolish virgins. It was not just about running out of oil in their lamps but losing their desire for God. They were losing the light and oil of their lamps and so was their enthusiasm to meet the bridegroom. They felt tired from waiting and waiting for the bridegroom to come.
This situation was also the condition of the Christian Community under St. Matthew’s. His people had grown tired, felt hopeless because Jesus seemed not to come back anymore as he promised. At this time, the belief of the immediate “parousia” or the second coming of Jesus was so strong that anytime during their lifetime – Jesus will come to welcome them all in his kingdom. Yet, the first disciples were already being martyred by the Romans and as if nothing was happening. Therefore, Matthew addressed them here and challenged them to be like the other five wise virgins and that is “to be always vigilant” – “to be always ready to welcome God” despite the difficulties and discouragements that they were experiencing.
Remember, God reveals his abiding and loving presence to us in any moment of our life. Let us keep our hearts then to always desire God through our constant and intimate communication with God through our personal prayer and through this Eucharist.
Let us hope that as we are able to meet the Lord in our ordinary life may it become a moment of joy for us and a life-changing experience for us and for our community. Hinaut pa.
Jom Baring, CSsR