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Thirty-second Sunday – Year A – Ordinary Time
Readings: Wis 6:12-16; 1 Thes 4:13-18; Lk 16:9-15.
Reading 1: Wis 6:12-16:
Resplendent and unfading is wisdom,
and she is readily perceived by those who love her,
and found by those who seek her.
She hastens to make herself known in anticipation of their desire;
Whoever watches for her at dawn shall not be disappointed,
for he shall find her sitting by his gate.
For taking thought of wisdom is the perfection of prudence,
and whoever for her sake keeps vigil
shall quickly be free from care;
because she makes her own rounds, seeking those worthy of her,
and graciously appears to them in the ways,
and meets them with all solicitude.
Reading 2: 1 Thes 4:13-18:
We do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters,
about those who have fallen asleep,
so that you may not grieve like the rest, who have no hope.
For if we believe that Jesus died and rose,
so too will God, through Jesus,
bring with him those who have fallen asleep.
Indeed, we tell you this, on the word of the Lord,
that we who are alive,
who are left until the coming of the Lord,
will surely not precede those who have fallen asleep.
For the Lord himself, with a word of command,
with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God,
will come down from heaven,
and the dead in Christ will rise first.
Then we who are alive, who are left,
will be caught up together with them in the clouds
to meet the Lord in the air.
Thus we shall always be with the Lord.
Therefore, console one another with these words.
Gospel: Lk 16:9-15:
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.”
I. THEME: Be wise and awaken to wait for the Lord to come.
None of us denies the importance of wisdom in life. The wise are often respected and chosen as leaders of people. This is a reason why most of parents are ready to sacrifice and to work hard so that their children can be successful in school. They hope with the knowledge their children acquired in school, they know how to survive and to find a better job than they have. This wisdom is just a secular wisdom; there exists a higher wisdom and this one is really called the true wisdom. It helps us to know the origin and the destination of life, and how to reach this end.
Today readings center around the true wisdom. In the first reading, the author wanted to show the importance of wisdom. In the second reading, St. Paul taught the Thessalonian faithful that the destination of life is to unite with Christ in his second coming. In the Gospel, Christ taught his disciples to be wise in preparation for his second coming because they will not know when it happens.
1/ Reading I: The wisdom hastens to make herself known to those who desire her.
1.1/ Three attitudes that one must have when searching for wisdom:
(1) One must love wisdom: None can love whom he doesn’t know; therefore, one must know the value of wisdom before he loves her. The Greek uses a proper noun to indicate a philosopher; this noun is composed by the verb “fileo,” meant to love, and “sofia,” meant wisdom. A philosopher is the one who loves wisdom. According to Hebraic and Hellenistic tradition, wisdom is personified as a woman; and she only reveals her to those who love her as the author declared: “She hastens to make herself known to those who desire her.” In opposition, whoever despises her, that one will never possess her.
(2) One must actively search for wisdom: To possess wisdom, one needs not only to love but also to actively search for her. The one who loves wisdom will go anywhere to search for her, as the queen of the South went from her country to search for the king Solomon at Jerusalem. The author of the first reading guaranteed, “He who rises early to seek her will have no difficulty, for he will find her sitting at his gates.”
(3) One must desire wisdom above all things: The Church tradition attributed the author of the Book of Wisdom to the king Solomon, who was granted by God that “whatever one thing he asked, He will give it to him.” The king didn’t ask for anything except wisdom; and God bestowed on him such a wisdom that none before and after him can possess. Therefore, “she is easily discerned by those who love her, and is found by those who seek her. She hastens to make herself known to those who desire her.”
1.2/ The benefits for those who have wisdom: Nothing on earth can compare with wisdom as the king Solomon stated: “Neither did I liken to her any priceless gem, because all gold is but a little sand in her sight, and silver will be accounted as clay before her. I loved her more than health and beauty, and I chose to have her rather than light, because her radiance never ceases. All good things came to me along with her, and in her hands uncounted wealth.” Some benefits of wisdom are:
(1) Wisdom will never be lost: All that are outside of a man can be lost, but what is inside him won’t be lost: “Wisdom is radiant and unfading.” She stays with the one who possessed her forever.
(2) Wisdom helps one to perfectly understand: The wisdom in the world is so immense, but the human mind is so limited, how can people understand them? The author of the Book promised: “To fix one’s thought on her is perfect understanding, and he who is vigilant on her account will soon be free from care.” The worldly wisdom only teaches people some aspects of wisdom, but the divine wisdom teaches people the whole aspect of life.
(3) Wisdom helps one to be free of all worries: People are worried because they don’t know what their future will be; but once wisdom helps them to understand the whole aspect of life, they will no longer worry.
(4) Wisdom helps one to solve all problems of life: The one who has a correct understanding of a thing, also knows how to perfectly solve its problems: “She graciously appears to them in their paths, and meets them in every thought.”
2/ Reading II: We will be with God for ever.
The true wisdom exists in the Catholic tradition. The wise know there is only one God in the world and He is the origin of all wisdom. He created all things in the world and predestined people to share His glory and happiness in the eternal life. The true wisdom of the Old Testament is Christ of the New Testament. The wise are those who believe the salvation is achieved through Christ, and the way to reach salvation is to believe in Christ. They must properly prepare themselves and patiently wait for his second coming before they can enjoy a happy life with him forever.
2.1/ Two different beliefs:
(1) Those who don’t believe in the resurrection: To them, death is the end of everything. They are afraid of death and worry when it comes. In St. Paul’s time, there were also existed this kind of people. He warned the faithful about this belief: “But we would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.” This is the attitude of those who lacked wisdom; they pay attention only to this life.
(2) Those who believe in the resurrection: Death is not the end, but the beginning of the eternal life with God. There is the reason for this hope: “For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.” This is the attitude of the wise, while they are joyfully living in this life, they didn’t forget to prepare for the eternal life to come.
2.2/ What will be happened on the Lord’s second coming: God will resurrect peoples’ bodies, and after that, they will be with Him forever.
(1) Those who felt as sleep in Christ will be resurrected first: “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.”
(2) Then, there will be us who are living: “Then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord.”
3/ Gospel: Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.
A parable is used to express a reality. The reality which Jesus wanted to teach his audience today is his second coming will certainly happen; but none can know its day or hour. In the parable, Christ is liken as the groom, the Church and the faithful are the bridegroom and her maidens, the second coming is the time when the groom comes to meet his bridegroom.
3.1/ Ten maidens who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom: According to Jewish custom, a wedding used to take place at night; therefore, lamps and oil cannot be neglected. Ten maidens are those who will be with the bridegroom during her wedding period. The time of the groom’s coming will not be announced: it can be in the evening, at night, or at dusk; therefore, everything must be prepared and ready. Ten maidens were divided into two classes: the wise and the fools depending on the oil which they carried with them or not.
These maidens must hear of or had been witnessed of some weddings. They knew the groom can be late, the lamps can be out of oil, and they must have lighted lamps to welcome the groom. Even they know as such but not all know how to correspondingly prepare. The wise are the five maidens who brought oil with them. The fools didn’t bring oil with them because they possibly assumed the groom will come soon, or they could depend on others to borrow from them.
3.2/ When the groom come: Since the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, “Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.”
(1) To lighten their lamps: All those maidens rose and trimmed their lamps. For those who had flask of oil with them, they poured oil in the lamp and went out to welcome him.
(2) To borrow some oil: The foolish said to the wise, “Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.” But the wise replied, “Perhaps there will not be enough for us and for you; go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.” There are many things in life that cannot be borrowed, such as wisdom, faith and love for God; how can one borrow other’s love to love God? We need to accumulate these things so that we can use them when we need them.
(3) Buy oil in the middle of night: The fools went out to buy oil; but how could they find an open store at night? Wisdom teaches people to predict what will happen in the future; but the fools refused to be guided by wisdom.
3.3/ The corresponding results: One can say he doesn’t commit sin because he didn’t know; but he must still get the result.
(1) Those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast; and the door was shut. (2) Afterward the other maidens came also, saying, “Lord, lord, open to us.” But he replied, “Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.”
And Jesus concluded: “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”
III. APPLICATIONS IN LIFE:
– We must desire and patiently learn to find out the true wisdom of our life. The true wisdom of the Old Testament is Christ of the New Testament.
– Death is not the end but the beginning of the new life with God. Therefore, we should not live as those who have no hope. They only pay attention and to enjoy this life.
– We need to prepare for all necessary things to welcome Christ. There are many things that cannot be bought or borrowed at the last minute such as faith, love, wisdom, virtues, and good works.