November 12, 2023: Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Gospel: Matthew 25:1-13
Jesus told his disciples this parable: “The kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones, when taking their lamps, brought no oil with them, but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps. Since the bridegroom was long delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight, there was a cry, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise ones replied, ‘No, for there may not be enough for us and you. Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’ While they went off to buy it, the bridegroom came and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him. Then the door was locked. Afterwards the other virgins came and said, ‘Lord, Lord, open the door for us!’ But he said in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Therefore stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”
Help wanted. Wedding Planner looking for wise people. Immediate employment guaranteed. Essential qualities: Prudent, sensible, rational and experienced in planning ahead. Never caught unprepared. Result of this help wanted ad? Twenty-five people submitted resumes and asked for an interview.
Help wanted. Wedding planner looking for foolish people. Immediate employment guaranteed. Essential qualities: Lacking in good judgment, scatterbrained, ill advised; experienced in never being prepared for any occasion. Result of this ad? Not one person submitted a resume or requested an interview.
Help wanted. Wedding planner looking for persons who sometimes make wise decisions and sometimes make foolish ones. Immediate employment guaranteed. Essential qualities: Comfortability with the way things work out – for good or for ill; a sense of humor, willingness to work hard and try again; dedicated team player, ability to stay tuned in to the Spirit of God’s wisdom in making decisions – big ones and little ones. Result of this ad? Innumerable self-aware, humble people walked in, sat themselves down, created a community and got to work on whatever life set in front of them.
Being the wise-foolish persons we are, we prepare ourselves as best we can for the arrival of the bride and bridegroom. We pray; we learn; we act; we rest in stillness – desiring with all our hearts to recognize and cooperate with the in-breaking of God – at the moment we least expect it. We’re willing and sometimes ready and sometimes not. That’s why we answered the Help Wanted ad – the one looking for wise-foolish people. Our bodies, minds and spirits hold all the essential qualifications. Count us in.
These somewhat adapted words from The Constitutions of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana, may be worthy of our prayer and consideration. They give a description of the call to community we wise-foolish people desire to live.
“This particular (community of wise-foolish people) is called into being by God to participate as a community in extending the providential designs of God to all creation. These (wise-foolish people) work to build community since its continuing call into being depends upon each one’s affirmative response. Community is formed by faith, hope and love lived not only in moments of light and peace, but also in the pain and darkness of human existence.”