Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Thirty-Second Sunday of Year A: Reflection- Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo

Thirty-Second Sunday of the Year A- Reflection – Fr. Michael Udoekpo
Readings: Wis 6:12-16; Ps 63:2-8; 1 Thess 4: 13-18 and Matt 25:1-13

Checking the Oils of our Christian virtues

The Bible Readings of today, particularly the familiar parable of the 10 virgins, with the imagery of oil for the lamps reminds us of the wisdom of not allowing ourselves to be caught up unprepared, or run dry, rusty in anything we do in this life, especially in our relationship with God and with our neighbors. Rather, we want to constantly check, renew, update, and refill the “oils” of our Christian calling, and keep burning the torch of our Christian hope and the feeling of the Lord presence in our midst!

Each of us gathered here, single or married, large or sizable family, when we wake-up each day whether we like it or not we are face with varieties of practical challenges, such as, how do I protect the roof over my head, keep my job and family intact, health care, provide food and education for my family, pass my exams, handle the pains of the loss of our loved one.  How do we readily keep our faith in the face of our daily economic, social, religious and political challenges- which you can name them----? In the light of today’s Scriptures readings, we need wisdom, prudence, and discernment of spirit to handle life as a whole. This has always been the case.

Recall when, Israel was in foreign land  they were hard pressed with similar problems many years ago (in their times of Greco Roman times), the first reading of today was offered as a wise source of encouragement. In every circumstance they must seek, love and thirst for God, the unfading and inexhaustible Wisdom.

In our faith tradition, are we not that renewed Israel with our own daily challenges, sometimes tragedies of loss of jobs and homes and low grades in our exams or the seeming absence or delay of God in our lives’ situations. Even when our loved one passes on or “falls asleep” like Lazarus (John 11: 1-54), and even when the Lord seems to delay getting to the sick bed and tomb of Lazarus, St. Paul says we must continue  like the Gospel wise  5 virgins  to  nourish our vigilance with oils of hope in Christ’s resurrection (1 Thess 4:13-18).

I don’t know if you notice like in the case of Lazarus, Christ the bridegroom in this wedding parable is again delayed, he does not come earlier. Notice the reactions of the virgins- that allegorically represent all of us, the church.  Sometimes we forget the everlasting love of God. We forget the sovereignty of our God. We forget that his blessings upon us does not depend 100 % on our human initiative. you can count all these blessings. God's delays or puntualities do not depend on us.

There might also be instances in our lives when we feel like Job, when we feel like Habakkuk or like the foolish gospel 5 virgins, by always wanting to rely on others preparedness or follow the bandwagon of making unwise proposals.  The counterproposal of the wise 5 virgins in verse 9 of today's Gospel which says, “no for there may not be enough for us and you” is not about selfishness. It is all about the fact that no one can ultimately rely on another’s preparedness 24/7; personal responsibility and accountability are sometimes required!

my brothers and sisters, friends, in  the face of seeming delay lies the hiddenness of God’s presence with us. Each of us is invited to that communal and personal response to Christ loves presence among us, particularly through the various sacraments we celebrate in the Church; a response through acts and burning torch of charity and kindness extended to our needy neighbors. The torch can be kept burning  by taking  the initiative to visit the seniors in the nursing homes  or the sick in the nearby hospital without being pressured., or helping daddy or mummy or our  friend or spouse close the garage door or put the dishes in the dish washers.

 This is how we keep the oil of our readiness for Christ burning. Each of us is invited to keep our oil burning: that oil of love, that oil of forgiveness of those who have offended us, that oil of keeping our vows and covenant with the Lord, that oil of peace, that oil of faith, that oil of charity and that oil of hope and watchfulness, prudence, modesty,  that oil of thirsting for the Lord (Psalm 63) and that oil of consciousness that in every occasion of a seeming absence or delay, Christ, the Bridegroom,  that unfading  Wisdom is rather always  making his own rounds seeking out for all of us who trust and rely upon Him ( Wis 6:16).