32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Mt 25:1-13)

Eliezer ben Hurcanus was a first and second century rabbi who was known to tell his disciples to, “Repent one day before your death.” And when asked, “How will we know when that day is?” he would reply, “All the more reason to repent today, lest you die tomorrow.”

Blake - Wise Foolish Virgins Parable

Blake – Wise Foolish Virgins Parable

We are all called to seek the wisdom of God, to see the world as He sees it. God should be the source of all our wisdom. But today people seek a different kind of wisdom, a secular, self-centered knowledge rather than the truth that comes from God.

Knowledge is brain food but wisdom is soul food.  The gift of wisdom in Latin is ‘sapida scientia’ which means “tasted knowledge.” Wisdom cannot be obtained from a book or learned in a classroom. Rather it comes from within, from the soul. Wisdom is not “knowing what one values” but rather “valuing that which is worth knowing.”But what is Wisdom? Is it sound judgment or a sharp intellect? I personally believe it is the act of making wise choices, choosing between what is good and right rather than what is opportunistic and self-indulgent. Wisdom presumes that we are prepared for the unexpected, to anticipate and put ourselves in the best position to act wisely when the unexpected happens, to wait with sure confidence that we have done all that we could have and should have done.

Wisdom comes when we overcome our desire for power, possessions, and pleasure and learn to live as Christ commands us to do: loving one another and worshipping God every minute of every day. The more we seek a perfect relationship with God the more His wisdom will hasten to us and the more wisdom will graciously appear in our souls.

All too often we fail to prepare ourselves for the unexpected, we live “in the moment” without any thought for tomorrow. We believe we have all the time in the world to reach a goal, break or make a habit, build a relationship, eat right, exercise more, or to do all those things that we would love to do but haven’t had the opportunity to accomplish. Many of us have developed “bucket lists”, things to do before we die but exactly how many of us actually act upon them.

Jesus tells us to always be prepared, to stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour. Only God knows that and he isn’t talking.  Despite wishful thinking, the fact is that we cannot know the time or place for ourselves or anyone else.

One of my ministries is to offer a weekly communion service at a local assisted living facility where those I serve range in age from 80-98 years old. Believe me, no one there has a clue when God will call them home.

My parents died in an accident when they were 58 and 59 years old. They were healthy and expected to live many more years, after all they still had children at home.

My youngest daughter, Charlene, recently asked me to offer prayers for someone she knew. She wrote “Andrew is someone I work with who was recently released from the hospital on hospice care with colon cancer. He is 38 years old and has two boys Ben and Cooper, ages 9 and 7.  Dad, I know you’ve said life’s not fair, but it’s really not fair that a 38-year old has to say goodbye to his wife and two little boys.”

My father’s oldest brother and my namesake was killed at the age of 12 in a hunting accident .

We all know people similar to these who have died, both young and old; seldom when they expected; many without the opportunity to say goodbye or to adequately prepare for it.

We all have things we regret or wish we could “do over.” We have many opportunities to do the right thing and to correct the mistakes we have made, but too often we miss the moment and simply let things slide.  After all, there is always tomorrow.

No one on their death bed wishes they had spent more time at work or regrets not having kept a cleaner house.  What we do regret are far more important and far less tangible. We regret not saying “I’m sorry.” We regret not saying “I love you.”  We regret not stopping to “smell the roses”, not spending time with those we love, helping those who are in need, giving the gift of time to others, or spending time with God.  Like the foolish young women in the Gospel, we burn our oil on things that do not matter and fail to pack extra flasks of oil for contingencies.

We need to be watchful while we wait, to pay attention and prepare to act at the appointed time, when a stranger needs a hand, when someone needs your time, when God gives you a call.  The key is to be prepared—and that is wisdom. While we can determine neither the day nor the hour we must be ready for it every moment of our lives. To be wise, then, is not to try to calculate the appointed day or time but to spend the present moment—now—as if it was your last; to ask the question “Am I ready to meet God?” Or perhaps more importantly, “Am I ready for God to meet me?

About the author: Deacon Chuck

Deacon Chuck was ordained into the permanent diaconate on September 17, 2011, in the ministry of service to the Diocese of Reno and assigned to St. Albert the Great Catholic Community. He currently serves as the parish bulletin editor and website administrator. Deacon Chuck continues to serve the parish of Saint Albert the Great Catholic Community of the Diocese of Reno, Nevada. He is the Director of Adult Faith Formation and Homebound Ministries for the parish, conducts frequent adult faith formation workshops, and is a regular homilist. He currently serves as the bulletin editor for the parish bulletin. He writes a weekly column intended to encompass a broad landscape of thoughts and ideas on matters of theology, faith, morals, teachings of the magisterium and the Catholic Church; they are meant to illuminate, illustrate, and catechize the readers and now number more than 230 articles. His latest endeavor is "Colloqui: A journal for restless minds", a weekly journal of about 8 pages similar in content to bulletin reflections. All his reflections, homilies, commentaries, and Colloqui are posted and can be found on his website: http://deaconscorner.org. Comments are always welcome and appreciated. He is the author of two books: "The Voices of God: hearing God in the silence" which offers the reader insights into how to hear God’s voice through all of the noise that surrounds us; and "Echoes of Love: Effervescent Memories" which through a combination of prose and verse provides the reader with a wonderful journey on the way to discovering forever love. He regularly speaks to groups of all ages and size and would welcome the opportunity to speak to your group.

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