Deacon Jerry Franzen Cathedral – NOVEMBER 6, 2011
Wisdom 6:12-16; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Matthew 25:1-13
Joni learned her first lesson in responsibility
the day she came home from school
and found that her guinea pigs were missing.
he rushed to her mother to ask about them.
“I gave them away because you didn’t take care of them,”
explained Joni’s mother.
“But, Mom, I did take care of them.”
“Joni, I gave them away ten days ago.”
Sound familiar? Listen to these;
see if any of them resonate with you.
“The doctor told me to get more exercise;
I think that I can work it into my schedule next month.”
“I’ll visit my homebound aunt
the next time I happen to be in her neighborhood.”
“I need to apologize to my sister;
I’m waiting for the opportunity to present itself.”
“After Christmas is over,
then I can make a New Year’s resolution
that I will be more careful about how I spend my money.”
“I know that I have a problem with anger,
one of these days I’ll talk it over with God.”
Where are we in today’s parable? We are clearly the virgins.
The bad news is that none of us is assured of possessing a full supply
of all that it takes to enter into the kingdom of heaven
like the five wise virgins.
And the good news is that none of us is doomed
to not entering the kingdom of heaven, like the five foolish virgins.
But this parable is not so much about where we are
as it is about where we should be.
We should be aiming for the image of the five wise virgins.
And who is the bridegroom? Jesus.
We must be prepared for our meeting with our “bridegroom.”
Jesus is the bridegroom,
and we, the Church, are his bride to whom he gives his life.
When we carry our lamp to meet Jesus, how will it be burning?
Brightly with our faith in Him?
Brightly with our hope in Him?
Brightly with our love for Him?
Or will our lamps be flickering,
because our faith in Him
has not constantly shown in our actions?
Will our flames be very low,
because we have placed so little hope in His saving power?
Will our flames be out,
because we have not known Him well enough to love Him?
We must be prepared at all times.
We are made painfully aware of examples of “untimely “deaths.
The parable is reminding us that we cannot put off our preparation.
We can’t let it go.
We can’t ignore it for days like the guinea pigs.
We must be working constantly, because we meet Jesus constantly.
We prepare for our final meeting with Him
by how we meet Him on a daily basis.
The bridegroom that will meet us on that fatal day
is the same bridegroom we meet every day.
We must do our best to be carrying the light of Jesus Christ
throughout our lives.
We bear the light of Christ
when the homebound, the sick or and the lonely
are illuminated by our visits.
We bear the light of Christ to those in our families
who are warmed by our contrition and our forgiveness.
We bear the light of Christ to those in need in our community
who benefit from our generous use of our resources.
We bear the light of Christ to those who work with us
when we let them know that we stand ready to help them.
Remember what Jesus had to say:
“When you do these things for the least of my brethren,
you do them for me.”
We must celebrate all those everyday instances
when we, like the five wise virgins,
meet Jesus in those around us
with the light of Jesus burning brightly in us.
We prepare for that final meeting
by practicing consistently and constantly
how we meet Jesus in the everyday situations.
Several weeks ago my homily was about
some of the changes in wording that we will use in
the new Edition of the Roman Missal beginning on Nov. 27.
I would like to look at one other example today.
Just after the singing of the “Lamb of God”
the priest holds up the host and CURRENTLY says
“This is the Lamb of God
who takes a way the sins of the world.
Happy are those who are called to His supper.”
Then WE AND THE PRIEST say,
“Lord, I am not worthy to receive you,
but only say the word and I shall be healed”
In the new translation, the words said by the priest
as he holds up the host are changed slightly.
The subsequent words, said by the priest AND the people,
are changed more significantly. They are:
“Lord, I am not worthy
that you should enter under my roof;
but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”
The new version is a more literal translation
of the Latin in the Roman Missal.
The Latin word “tectum” for “roof” is there in the Latin
and the words “anima mea”, meaning “my soul” are there.
So the translation is more literal.
Secondly, this prayer has a biblical origin.
In St. Luke’s Gospel we read that
Jesus received a message that a centurion, a Roman soldier,
whose servant was seriously ill at the centurion’s house,
wanted Jesus to cure his servant.
This was a Roman, a pagan, who had come to know Jesus.
Jesus started off to the house with the messengers.
But, when Jesus was near the house,
the centurion sent the following message:
“Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy
to have you enter under my roof. ………….
but say the word and let my servant be healed.”
So the prayer is now more faithful to its biblical origin.
But what does the Church want us to understand with these words?
These are the last words said by all before receiving Communion.
We are preparing for a very special meeting with Jesus,
not the meeting of Jesus in another person,
but a meeting with Jesus himself, in his own Body and Blood.
Whether we use the current words or the new words,
they begin with our recognition of our unworthiness,
as the centurion recognized his unworthiness.
Though we are unworthy,
Jesus does come to us in Holy Communion.
Though the centurion had been a pagan,
he displayed tremendous faith and hope in Jesus
as well as a genuine love for Jesus.
And we must come to our meeting with Jesus in Holy Communion
with the same light of faith, hope and love
that was evident in the centurion’s request
sent in his messages to Jesus.
The new words of Jesus entering “under our roof” are
not only more literal in translation and
closer to their biblical origin,
but they also give us a clearer image of how
we should understand our reception of Jesus in the Eucharist.
receive Jesus not as an item of food or drink but as a person.
We receive Him “under our roof”,
which covers our whole person,
to be a part of all that we think, say, and do,
just as some new person would be welcomed
into one of our households
and would become a part of all aspects of the household.
This type of welcoming of Jesus “under our roof”
expresses a much deeper sense of encounter,
and encounter of Jesus in faith, hope and love.
It is an encounter that should change the character,
the very heart, of that household.
It is an encounter that should change all that occurs
under the roof which is US.
Jesus’ entering “under our roof”
should effect us to the very depth of our being,
not just that WE be healed in some nonspecific manner,
but that we be healed to the depth of our souls.