Dear One and All,
This editions is a NO FRILLS one. Would you believe that I had almost completed this publication with all the pictures and headings, and then for some unknown reason, my computer had an unexpected shout down! Well that’s what the message on the screen was when I re started it! I had lost everything that I had prepared 😦 So, I hope that you understand.
With every good wish,
First Reading: Wisdom 6:12-16
Wisdom is bright, and does not grow dim. By those who love her she is readily seen, and found by those who look for her. Quick to anticipate those who desire her, she makes herself known to them.
Watch for her early and you will have no trouble; you will find her sitting at your gates. Even to think about her is understanding fully grown; be on the alert for her and anxiety will quickly leave you.
She herself walks about looking for those who are worthy of her and graciously shows herself to them as they go, in every thought of theirs coming to meet them.
This is the word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 62:2-8
R. My soul is thirsting for you O Lord my God.
O God, you are my God, for you I long; for you my soul is thirsting. My body pines for you like a dry, weary land without water. R.
So I gaze on you in the sanctuary to see your strength and your glory. For your love is better than life, my lips will speak your praise. R.
So I will bless you all my life, in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul shall be filled as with a banquet, my mouth shall praise you with joy. R.
On my bed I remember you. On you I muse through the night for you have been my help; in the shadow of your wings I rejoice. R.
Second Reading: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
We want you to be quite certain, brothers, about those who have died, to make sure that you do not grieve about them, like the other people who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again, and that it will be the same for those who have died in Jesus: God will bring them with him. We can tell you this from the Lord’s own teaching, that any of us who are left alive until the Lord’s coming will not have any advantage over those who have died. At the trumpet of God, the voice of the archangel will call out the command and the Lord himself will come down from heaven; those who have died in Christ will be the first to rise, and then those of us who are still alive will be taken up in the clouds, together with them, to meet the Lord in the air. So we shall stay with the Lord for ever. With such thoughts as these you should comfort one another.
This is the word of the Lord Thanks be to God.
Gospel: Matthew 25:1-13
Jesus told this parable to his disciples: ‘The kingdom of heaven will be like this: Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were sensible: the foolish ones did take their lamps, but they brought no oil, whereas the sensible ones took flasks of oil as well as their lamps. The bridegroom was late, and they all grew drowsy and fell asleep. But at midnight there was a cry, “The bridegroom is here! Go out and meet him.” At this, all those bridesmaids woke up and trimmed their lamps, and the foolish ones said to the sensible ones, “Give us some of your oil: our lamps are going out.” But they replied, “There may not be enough for us and for you; you had better go to those who sell it and buy some for yourselves.” They had gone off to buy it when the bridegroom arrived. Those who were ready went in with him to the wedding hall and the door was closed. The other bridesmaids arrived later. “Lord, Lord,” they said, “open the door for us.” But he replied, “I tell you solemnly, I do not know you.” So stay awake, because you do not know either the day or the hour.’
This is the Gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ
- The month of November begins by celebrating All Saints (Nov 1st) and All Souls (Nov 2nd). Be invited to visit a Church to pray in thanks for all those who have brightened our journey with their lives.
- The Book of Wisdom was written to share the beauty of Jewish ‘wisdom’ different from Greek ‘wisdom’. For Greeks, wisdom was the result of hard human study and work. Jewish people understood wisdom as a feminine aspect of God and a gift ‘received’. At dawn was the favoured time for prayer. During the day ‘the gate’ was a place of gathering for elders making legal decisions and where city trade took place. Do you love, seek, watch, pray into the night for… wisdom? v17 continues: wisdom begins with the sincere desire for instruction. What would you like ‘instruction’ in? Who could you ask for help?
- Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians is one of the earliest letters in the New Testament. In contrast to the belief that death was the very end, our christian faith rests on a certain hope. Use your imagination to enter Paul’s picture of the final day. Why do you think scripture refers to this as a ‘great and terrible’ day?
- In the ancient Middle – East, the complete wedding celebration would take up several days. The first stage involved the fathers of the couple discussing and arranging the contract and legal matters between the two families. The Groom would then arrive to the Brides house to take her home. It was not known how long the various discussions would take. Guests at the Groom’s house were frequently ‘waiting’ as a result of delays. You can imagine the surprise with the Groom and Bride
arriving at midnight! Jesus uses this image for his ‘return’. The Church celebrates the Feast of Christ the King (November 20) as if it was the ‘return’. What would you do if Jesus returned in 2 weeks?
- The Bridesmaids and ‘oil for their lamps’ is symbolic of being ‘ready’. ‘Oil’ equals readiness. It cannot be ‘shared’. Spiritual preparation cannot be done by someone else. There is the striking image of a ‘locked door’. Cries to ‘open the door’. A negative response. The parable draws us in. We are left with self accusation: will I be ‘ready’? In what way does this parable challenge you?
- What is one action that you will do to ‘live-the-word’ this week?
Focusing the Gospel
Key words and phrases
The kingdom of heaven will be like this: Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went
to meet the bridegroom.
The bridegroom is here! Go out and meet him.
Those who were ready went in with him to the wedding hall and the door was closed.
So stay awake, because you do not know either the day or the hour.
My soul is thirsting for you O Lord my God.
We believe that Jesus died and rose again, and that it will be the same for those who have died in Jesus.
to the point
In the parable there is no doubt that the bridegroom will come. What is unexpected is his long delay which reveals the wisdom of those virgins who were prepared. For us the delay is not a time for sleeping but a crucial time that requires the wisdom to know both that Christ will do his part in seeking us and that we must do our part in seeking God with hope and urgency.
Connecting the Gospel
to the first reading and responsorial psalm
Read in a Christian perspective, the wisdom about which the first reading speaks is Christ who seeks us. The responsorial psalm underscores our seeking (thirsting for) God.
to Christian living
We rarely, if ever, view our daily Christian living in light of the final coming of Christ. But his final coming is, in fact, the context which gives meaning to our daily behaviour and our ongoing hope.
Preparedness and judgment
The gospel addresses the problem of the delayed parousia (= the return of Christ in glory; see Advent 1). This parable of the ten maidens describes Christians who are wise and thus prepared, and some who are foolish and thus unprepared. When the bridegroom (= Jesus) returns (= Second Coming), judgment will take place: the wise will be admitted to the banquet (see Sunday 27) but the foolish will be shut out. Similar images of separating and judgment are found in the parables of the weeds and wheat (13:24-43 – Sunday 16), the fishnet which gathers both good and bad fish (13:47-50 – Sunday 17), and the sheep and goats (25:31-46 – Christ the King). In each case the good will be separated from the bad on judgment day. Positively, the delay of Christ’s coming means that there is time for the foolish to change their lives in order to be properly prepared (cf. 2 Peter 3:9). But the delay will not be indefinite; indeed, the bridegroom could come at any moment.
The ‘wise’ and the ‘foolish’ were also discussed in the parable of two men who build their houses, one on sand and the other on solid rock; when the storm comes (i.e., the end-time crisis) the wise who built on rock will stand, but the foolish will be swept away (7:24-27/Sunday 9, displaced this year). In both parables one’ ‘wisdom’ is measured by taking action that will assure a favourable judgment.
The first reading offers a consoling complement to parables of preparedness and judgment. In such parables it seems that all the work and effort is up to Christians: we must eagerly seek out that wisdom which leads to salvation. But ‘wisdom’ also seeks us out. In Wisdom literature ‘wisdom’ is personified as an aspect of God’s presence. When Lady Wisdom (see Proverbs 8, Sirach 24) ‘hastens to make herself known’ (Wis 6:13), ‘seek[s] those worthy of her,’ ‘graciously appears to them . . . and meets them with all solicitude’ (6:16), it is God who is reaching out. In our thirst for God (responsorial psalm), God in Christ actively seeks us out.