Sunday, 8 November 2020 : Thirty-Second Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday all of us are brought to focus our attention on the wisdom which God has given to us, from His Divine Wisdom. God has given us His wisdom and the ability to discern in our hearts and minds, through the gift of baptism and the Holy Spirit that He has sent down unto us. And through the Holy Spirit, He has revealed His truth and the love that He has for each and every one of us.

And because we have been given wisdom and understanding, the revelation of the truth and the love of God, then naturally, we should seek the Lord and embrace Him. This is as we know that in the end, if we follow the Lord, in the end, there is the assurance of eternal life and glory, the assurance of everlasting happiness with God. Yet, the reality is sadly that many among us despite having all these given to us, we took it for granted and did not appreciate how fortunate we have been because of that.

This is what the Lord wants to remind us through our Gospel passage today as we listened to the parable of the five foolish bridesmaids and the five wise bridesmaids. Those five foolish bridesmaids were deemed foolish because they did not give everything proper thought and lacked preparation for what they were about to do. They were supposed to wait for the coming of the bridegroom as the servants of the bride, inviting and welcoming the bridegroom into the place.

At that time, wedding banquets were often held at night time because in that region during the day the weather might be too hot during certain months when weddings were usually conducted, especially in June, during the height of the summer just before the harvest and after the sowing season has been completed. But as mentioned, because the bridegroom delayed in coming to the wedding banquet, the bridesmaids who were supposed to wait for him, had to wait longer as a result.

Those five foolish bridesmaids were running out of oil for their lamps, as they were using the lamps to welcome the bridegroom, and it was inappropriate for them to have their lamps extinguished before the bridegroom. That would have been a great embarrassment for everyone, and especially so for the bridesmaids. That was why the five foolish bridesmaids tried asking the other five bridesmaids, who were wise, for oil to help them maintain their lamps.

Certainly, those other five bridesmaids, who were not just wise but also kind, wanted to help. However, it was impractical for them to share their oil with the five foolish bridesmaids, as there were limited space for the oil in the lamps, and although the wise bridesmaids must have brought extra oil as part of their preparations, but the fact that the bridegroom was coming very late to the banquet made it unlikely for them to have enough oil to share, despite the extra oil they must have prepared earlier.

That was why the five foolish bridesmaids had to go to buy the oil to top up their insufficient oil so that they could appropriately welcome the bridegroom. However, we know that it is a very late hour at night, and just as it is today, at that time, all shops and markets would have been closed at such an hour. Where could they have gone to find any oil? It would have been next to impossible to procure the oil easily. In the end, they did get the oils, but that must have been quite difficult for them to get.

And in that delay, the bridegroom came while those five foolish bridesmaids were away getting their oil. Those wise bridesmaids were ready and they rejoiced, welcoming the bridegroom as planned, and joined in the festivities together with the bride and the bridegroom. It was after that then the foolish bridesmaids came back to join the celebration. Yet, as was obvious they came too late to do what they were intended to do, and as the celebrations have already started, the door has been closed.

The bridegroom himself came out to open the door when they called for him, asking to be allowed inside. And in the end, the bridegroom said that he did not know them, and those unfortunate foolish bridesmaids had to endure the darkness, bereft of the celebrations and humiliated. And all of these are in fact a summary of how the Lord and His story of salvation for us. Through all of these, we heard how each and every one of us must make use of the wisdom that God has given us to discern carefully how we are to live our lives.

Those bridesmaids represent all of us, God’s people, all mankind living in this world. The bride is the Church of God, of which we are part of, just as the bridesmaids are part of the Church’s party. Meanwhile, as alluded in the Gospels and in the Book of Revelations of St. John, the bridegroom himself represents the Lord, Who is about to come again a second time into this world at the end of time, just as the bridegroom is coming to the wedding banquet with the bride and all those who are to celebrate together.

This is what we look forward to, brothers and sisters in Christ, the heavenly wedding banquet alluded to in the Book of Revelations, towards its end chapters, when the tribulations and trials on Earth has been concluded, the final Judgment has been made, and finally the Lamb, the Bridegroom, comes to be with His Bride, the Church of God. This marks the reunification and perfect reconciliation between mankind and God, their beloved Creator, their loving Father and their Bridegroom.

And since this has been revealed to us, the truth of what is to come, then we surely know what we are to expect. And the Lord Himself has repeatedly said in many occasions throughout the Gospels, a sentiment that is also repeated again and again by the Apostles, that the Lord is coming again as He has promised us. However, just as His coming is a certainty, the timing of His coming is most uncertain to us. None knows the exact timing of the Lord’s coming, and no one knows when the time is at hand.

So, what does this mean for us, brothers and sisters in Christ? It means that we should not be complacent and think that we should not do anything. On the contrary, like the five wise bridesmaids, we must always be prepared knowing of what is to come our way. We will not want to end up like the five foolish bridesmaids who were caught unprepared and not having enough oil in their lamps. As a result, they were left out of the celebrations and were humiliated and shamed. And this means an eternity of suffering in total regret in hell, for our refusal and rejection of God’s generous love and compassionate mercy.

To us, it means that we have to keep in mind of our actions in life, the choices we make and how we move forward day after day. As Christians, we have been called to action and to make a difference in this world and in our respective communities. We cannot stand idle and do nothing, or assume that just because of our Christian faith that we have been saved and there is nothing else to be done, and we just have to wait for the glory and blessings to come.

Instead, we have to stand vigil, awaiting the Lord’s coming, and in the meanwhile doing everything that He has asked us to do, and which He has showed and taught us to do. We have to be inspiration for one another with our lives, through our every words and actions. God gave us His wisdom through the infusion of the Holy Spirit and His gifts. And because of this, we have to carefully consider how we live our lives, and whether even our small, little actions bring forth God’s love to the fore.

Have we loved our brethren in need, all around us? We live in a difficult time when everyone is suffering from all sorts of troubles, and especially more so this year. God has blessed us with His graces and blessings, and we are all called to share this love and blessings with one another. Let us all not be selfish or consider just our own self-preservation and desires for pleasure. Instead, let us all follow the Lord’s own examples in love, in how He has reached out in love to those most wretched and wicked, and those who were in most need of healing and forgiveness.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is how we should move forward in life. Let us all be filled with the zeal and enthusiasm to be genuine Christians and sincere evangelisers of truth to our fellow brethren, not through just words but also through action, so that in doing what we can, in even the smallest ways, we may touch the lives of others positively and make things better for this world, so that when the Lord comes again as promised, we will be found worthy and not be judged against our wicked actions or lack of action.

May the Lord, our loving God and Father continue to be with us, guide us in our journey of faith in life. May He bless us all and help us in our every good endeavours, as His faithful servants and followers, each and every moments of our lives. May God, the Bridegroom of the Church, be glorified forever and ever! Amen.