CATHEDRAL – Deacon Jerry Franzen NOVEMBER 12, 2017
Wisdom 6:12-16; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Matthew 25:1-13
Praised Be Jesus Christ - Good Morning
*Joni learned her first lesson in responsibility
the day she came home from school
and found that her guinea pigs were missing.
She 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.”
Mom replied, “Joni, I gave them away ten days ago.”
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 I’ll 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.”
We are the virgins in today’s parable,
and it’s a “good news/bad news” story.
The “bad news” is that none of us is like the five prudent virgins
assured of possessing a full supply of all that it takes
to enter into the kingdom of heaven.
None of us has it all in order.
The “good news” is that none of us is like the five foolish virgins
doomed to banishment from the kingdom of heaven.
Actually this parable is not so much about where we are
s it is about getting to where we should be.
We must be aiming for the image of the five wise virgins,
being fully prepared for our meeting with our “bridegroom,”
with God, at our death.
At that time, all of the worldly things in the natural order
are set aside; it’ll be just God and each of us.
How will our lamps be burning?
Brightly with our faith in God?
Brightly with our hope in God?
Brightly with our love for God?
Or will our lamps be flickering,
because we have not known God well enough that
our faith in God has constantly shown forth in our actions?
Will our flames be very low,
because we have not known God well enough that
we have lost hope in His saving power?
Will our flames be out,
because we have not known God well enough to love Him?
We must be prepared, for we know that this meeting with God
can come at any time.
We are made painfully aware of that
in examples of “untimely” deaths.
The parable in today’s Gospel
is reminding us that we cannot put off our preparation.
We can’t let it go;
we can’t ignore it for days like Joni ignored her guinea pigs.
We must be working on it,….. but how?
The five foolish virgins looked to the five wise ones for help.
Their request was rejected.
This seems to be counter to Christ’s teachings on love of neighbor,
but, parables are not perfect analogies.
While oil and other physical goods can be shared,
one person cannot just share his or her grace
for the spiritual preparation for another’s
final meeting with God.
We must each work with God’s grace for ourselves.
As children we relied on others to prepare us;
as adults we must be responsible for our own preparation.
What can move us to do this?
What can transform our lethargy into action?
We have all been endowed with gifts
through the action of the Holy Spirit at Baptism.
** One of those baptismal gifts is wisdom, a gift that is
“resplendent and unfading” in the words of the first reading.
This is NOT wisdom in the natural order,
where we use our knowledge of the natural order
to make correct decisions.
The baptismal gift of wisdom
is the gift of wisdom in the divine order,
wisdom where we see things as God sees things
and make our decisions accordingly.
***There are six other gifts of the Holy Spirit given at baptism:
understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety
and fear of the Lord.
Remember these are not natural gifts, but spiritual gifts,
gifts to be seen through God’s eyes and God’s precepts.
Understanding as God understands.
Counsel as God would counsel.
Fortitude as God wants us to be courageous in support of Him.
Knowledge as God knows.
Piety as piety toward our God.
And fear not as being afraid but as being in awe of our God.
By our baptism,
we have been GIVEN each of these gifts to some degree.
These gifts are for our use for our salvation.
Having been given these gifts, we have been empowered
to USE them for our salvation by the further infusion
of the Holy Spirit at Confirmation.
On top of that, we are all expected to use the gifts
we have been given in service to others, to assist in their salvation.
The bridegroom that will meet us on that fatal day
is the same bridegroom we already meet on a daily basis.
We prepare for our final meeting with God
by how we meet Him as Jesus on a daily basis.
Using the gifts of the Holy Spirit,
we must bring the fruits of those gifts
to members of our families and to our friends
when we take good care of ourselves
in a sensible lifestyle and a God-like manner.
We must bring the fruits of those gifts to the sick or to the lonely
whose spirits can be lifted by our visits.
We must bring the fruits of those gifts to those
who can be warmed by our contrition and our forgiveness.
We must bring the fruits of those gifts to those who can benefit
from our sensible use of our resources.
We must bring the fruits of those gifts to the persons we seek
to help us to overcome our faults.
We must celebrate all those everyday instances
when we meet Jesus in those around us by bringing to them
the bright light of Christ.
We prepare for that final meeting with Jesus
by practicing consistently and constantly
how we meet Jesus in the situations of everyday life.
AND we must recognize that some of us are better
at using some of these gifts than others,
but we are all to use the gifts we have been given
to the best of our ability.
I am sure that I am not alone in being especially fond of the flame
as a symbol of the effect of the Holy Spirit,
as was the case for the apostles at Pentecost.
In today’s Gospel, I see the flame of an oil lamp
as a symbol of the action of the Holy Spirit.
Against the force of gravity,
the oil in a lamp flows up the wick to the flame,
where the liquid oil is transformed into vapors.
It’s the vapors that mix with the oxygen in the air
and are ignited with the flame to burn
and sustain the light of the lamp.
The power of the Holy Spirit must be burning brightly in us.
We must cooperate with the graces of the Holy Spirit
to use the gifts we have received through the love of God
to move us uphill, counter to the culture of inactivity,
dependency and procrastination,
all of which can drag us down.
May we be transformed into a new creation of activity
that can burst into flame,
the light that we must be for ourselves and others
both now and at the hour of death.
* Source unknown
**Human Wisdom vs Divine Wisdom in Homily 32nd Sunday OT Year A by Bishop Sam Jacobs http://www.spiritaflame.org/2017/11/homily-thirty-second-sunday-year-a.html