Date: Sunday, November 08, 2020
When we were shut down and I was unable to offer Mass publicly, I celebrated Mass simply in my rectory living room. I was not alone. Outside I had squirrels, chipmunks, and birds looking in as my congregation. I felt like St. Francis. Sr. Marilyn asked if I could celebrate Eucharist in the convent on Chairfactory Road. I did so on Sundays from Easter to Pentecost. It was special to have a small community and the Sisters reflecting upon the Sunday readings – not to mention the delicious breakfast. We prayed together for God’s grace to sustain our faith community.
Our first reading is from the Book of Wisdom. It is composed for a Jewish Community living apart from Jerusalem possibly in Egypt 100 to 50 years before Jesus. In this foreign place that does not support their Jewish way of life, they keep vigil for the precious gift of God’s Wisdom. Wisdom is described as intimately related to God, the divine breath or spirit, a pure outpouring of the Almighty, the mirror of divine power, the image of divine goodness that pervades all things and especially given to people who love her. “Lady Wisdom” is the source and perfection of prudence. “Wisdom waits at the gate of those who seek her, delighted each day to set out with them on new adventures. She is ‘in their heads,’ helping them to reframe encounters and situations that arise from God’s point of view.” -- Elizabeth Nagel, Workbook for Lectors
Our second reading is the Letter of St. Paul to the Church at Thessalonica. It is the earliest Sacred Scripture in the New Testament. They expect the imminent return of the Risen Christ. But they wonder and worry about those who die before Jesus’ coming in glory. St. Paul assures them “on the word of the Lord” that the dead who fall asleep in Christ will rise first and then the living, those who are left, will be caught up together. Can we imagine living our faith so intensely with such hope that we expect to see Jesus when he comes?
Jesus tells a parable. The kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins or bridesmaids who take their lamps to await the arrival of bridegroom. Five are wise. Five are foolish. The wise bring flasks of oil. The bridegroom is long delayed. The foolish run low on oil and need to borrow from the wise or buy some from local merchants. While they are off, the bridegroom comes. The five wise bridesmaids enter the wedding feast with the groom. The foolish are late and discover the door is locked and they cannot enter. We learn from the story of the need for us to be ready to welcome the Christ when Jesus comes. We cannot buy or borrow the oil at the last minute. “Oil” symbolizes a person’s fidelity, integrity, character, and good works. The parable warns that there will be a time when it is too late. We may be locked out.
Today, Sunday at the 5 PM Mass, our teens in 11th Grade and 2 adults will receive the Sacrament of Confirmation. Recalling our own Confirmation, we pray for the Holy Spirit to instill the precious gift of God’s Wisdom into the hearts of the confirmation candidates to animate and guide their lives. Like the Thessalonians may they always live with the hope of Jesus’ resurrection. May they live their Catholic faith like the wise bridesmaids with lamps lit and flasks full of the oil of goodness.