Homily for August 26th, 2016:
The midnight cry, “Behold the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!” will come for each of us, when, at life’s end, the Lord sends out his angel to call us home, to him. The story tells us that we are to prepare for this great and final event by living not for ourselves, but for God and for others. That means pursuing justice instead of exploitation; trying to build people up rather than tearing them down; being more interested in giving than in getting.
Jesus uses the story to warn us that if we live for ourselves, heedless of God’s claims on us, we are headed for disaster. We are like the foolish bridesmaids who made no preparations. They assumed that they could always get more oil for their torches whenever they needed it, and that the door of the house would be opened for them even if they arrived late. The foolish bridesmaids are shocked to discover that, at the decisive hour, they are unprepared, and excluded. Until then, there seemed to be no difference between the wise and foolish bridesmaids. “They all became drowsy and fell asleep,” Jesus tells us. The midnight call to action finds the wise prepared, however, and the foolish unprepared.
Here is a modern commentary on this gospel story. It’s a young woman’s letter to the man she loves. Someone I can no longer identify sent it to me by e-mail long ago. Here’s what the young woman wrote:
“Remember the day I borrowed your brand new car and dented it? I thought you'd kill me, but you didn't. And remember the time I flirted with all the guys to make you jealous, and you were? I thought you'd leave me, but you didn't. Remember the time I forgot to tell you the dance was formal and you showed up in jeans? I thought you'd drop me, but you didn't.
“Yes, there were a lot of things you didn't do. But you put up with me, and you loved me, and you protected me. There were a lot of things I wanted to make up to you when you came back from
“But you didn't come back.”
We think there is always tomorrow; but one day our tomorrow will be
on the other side. Today's parable of the wise and foolish Virgins is asking us: on which side of a locked door do you wish to spend eternity? We need to make our decision now, not later; because soon that will be too late.