ORDINARY 32 (A)

Stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour. – Mt. 25: 13

   What makes the foolish virgins foolish, & the wise ones wise? An obvious answer would be lack of foresight, of being prepared for an unexpectedly long wait. But the truth of the oil in this parable is that you must have your own. One cannot develop spiritually if you attempt to take the consciousness & actions of another person as your own.

   Every one’s path is singular, & every one’s lamp produces its own light. To use a metaphor of an early Church Father, there is a love like a small lamp, fed by oil, that goes out when the oil is ended; or like a rain-fed stream that goes dry when rain no longer feeds it. But there is another kind of love, like a stream gushing from the earth, never to be exhausted. The wise virgins are in touch with the inexhaustible river, so the oil is constantly replenished rather than consumed. The foolish ones, on the other hand, only know the way of “going & buying,” looking outside themselves for what they need.

   In fact, they do not have their own resources & so are addicted to going elsewhere for sustenance. They cannot imagine any other way. When they arrive late, they implore, “Lord, Lord, open to us.” They do not understand that the kingdom of heaven has been passed on to them, & the door only opens when they have the ability to open it for themselves. Here is a story to illustrate the point:

A man knocks on a door. The voice from inside says, “Who is it?” The man says, “It is your countryman.” The voice behind the door says, “There is no one here.” The man wanders for a year, returns to the door, & knocks a second time. The voice from inside says, “Who is it?” The man says, “It is your brother.” The voice behind the door says, “There is no one here.” The man wanders for another year, returns to the door, & knocks a third time. The voice from inside says, “Who is it?” The man says, “It is you.” The door opens.

   How does Christ know us?  He knows us when He looks into our face & sees Himself. Worshiping Jesus from afar with extravagant praise & petition simply doesn’t work. We have to receive Him into our self so that He can build us up from the inside. It is only then that we can awaken to our identity as a child of God. This integration of Christ into our life means transformation. Then we will be able to identify with St. Paul’s cry, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives within me” (Gal. 2: 20).

   Living wisely means acknowledging that we are “tourists” on God’s earth, only passing through. It means acknowledging our dependence on God not just for life, but for a way of life. It means having within ourselves the living waters that spring up to eternal life so that we do not have to rely on conventional human wisdom which ultimately runs dry, & we will be left standing at a door that does not open.  AMEN!