Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
The Final Count Down. I Will Survive. Stayin’ Alive. These are some of the songs on my “End of Time” playlist, which is a weird statement to make unless you are a Youth Minister who has done a youth ministry night on the Second Coming of Christ. I’m pretty excited to fire up that playlist again because the general message of the readings this Sunday is “The end is near!!!!” Or possibly more accurate: “The end could be near!!” We don’t know exactly when the “end” will be, but we better be prepared! This could be applied to our own personal lives – we don’t know when the end will be for us, so we better be prepared to meet God through the way we live our lives. But it is more specifically talking about when Christ will return and create a new heaven and new earth, and the righteous will be with Jesus forever. “The second coming” aka “the end of time.”
One thing that ended for me yesterday was my bottle of extra virgin olive oil. We had been eating so much fast food and pizza lately that I was determined to make a super-healthy “harvest bowl” for dinner – quinoa, roasted sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, kale and sunflower seeds, etc. But this dinner quite depended on olive oil to pull it off. I had maybe just enough to make the dinner, but then my husband had to run out right at dinner time to get something fixed on our family car and disappeared. There I was, with the hungry kids, waiting for my bridegroom to return with not much olive oil left. We were pretty hungry, and my husband was long delayed, so we just ate dinner. Not my fault my husband chose to have a car appointment at 5pm on a week night. (Right?) I made a delicious dressing with balsamic, honey and olive oil – but oops! That was the last of the extra virgin olive oil and it made it on my dinner, not my husband’s. When he pulled back up to the house, the kids shouted “Daddy’s home!! Daddy’s home!” And when my husband came home ready to feast, he found himself a bowl of dry healthy stuff that tasted like unsatisfying grass. Oops.
In the Gospel this Sunday, Jesus tells a parable about 10 virgins who were to take their lamps and wait for the bridegroom to appear for his wedding feast. Five of the young women were wise and brought flasks of extra oil, while the other half didn’t think that through thoroughly and brought only a little oil. Unfortunately, the bridegroom was long delayed and the 5 girls with only a little oil burned right through their supply and plunged into darkness. Those who were unprepared realized they needed to quickly run to the store to get more! And as it would happen – the groom returned while they were away. The girls who were prepared with their lamps burning bright were able to enter the wedding feast and party with their friends, while the unprepared were late and locked out. If I’m going to be honest, I feel like I want to jump in to defend the girls who didn’t bring enough oil. What if they had a lot going on and just didn’t get a chance to run to the lamp store before going to this wedding?? I know what it’s like to run out of key items… But the meaning of the parable goes deeper than just flaking on thinking ahead. Jesus uses the image of a wedding feast to represent the Kingdom of Heaven, and the preparedness (or lack thereof), has more to do with how we are living our lives. We are only going to get into the “wedding feast” if we know the groom (Jesus), and know him well. We aren’t going to make the list if we aren’t friends.
How well do we know Jesus? Do we talk to him (pray)? Do we spend time with him (in the Eucharist at Mass)? Do we apologize when we make mistakes (through the Sacrament of reconciliation) to heal that relationship as needed? Do we involve Him in the major decisions of our lives, and even the small ones? How well do we really know the bridegroom? Great questions to ponder, especially if we want to make it to the party, which could start at any moment. As we look ahead to Advent and the Christmas season after that, let’s recommit to investing in that relationship with Jesus so that we can all enjoy endless bacon wrapped scallops and signature cocktails together forever in the Kingdom of Heaven.