“Being inspired by St Monica to live authentic and sincere Christian lives, keeping aflame the flame of hope and love!”
(Based on 1 Thess 4:1-8 and Mt 25:1-13 – Friday of the 21st Week in Ordinary Week)
The entrance of a particular church once had a large banner that had large, bold letters printed on it.
The words in this banner read thus: Those people who expect salvation at the eleventh hour…
… often die at 10:30!
Postponement in spiritual matters is indeed a perilous matter!
Procrastination – the tendency to postpone/delay – is an inclination that is to be avoided in our spiritual journey.
Life often takes us through paralyzing and crippling situations
And this may cause us to often “delay or postpone.”
But the Gospel of the Day is a powerful reminder of how we ought to not postpone…
… rather be “proactive” in our spiritual life.
The Gospel presents the Parable of the ten virgins, with a strong warning to “make use of every opportunity that life offers” and “to be ever-prepared” in receiving the coming of the Lord.
The parable of the Ten Virgins has its setting in a Jewish Wedding.
In the time of our Blessed Lord, the wedding was probably one of the greatest events in a typical Palestinian village or an Israeli town.
This was a time of great social celebration!
All got together…
… friends, relatives, villagers..
It was a time of great festivity, abounding happiness and overflowing celebrations.
A Jewish marriage consisted of three parts or elements:
It was sort of an official contract between the two fathers, who would be giving their son and daughter to each other.
This second element consisted of the friends and family members coming together and the couple making vows and promises that were binding.
This phase onwards, they would be officially considered as husband and wife.
The time after Betrothal lasted up to a year, which was for the bridegroom to prepare a place for his bride – either an addition to his father’s house or to have his own
It was to be his concrete expression of showing his love to her – preparing a home for her and preparing his heart and life for her!
At the end of the time that he needed to get it prepared, he would go to take her and bring her to his place – and they would thereafter, live together.
This third phase, therefore was the fulfilment of the eager longing of the bridegroom and bride, in being together for the rest of their life!
The Wedding set-up that is mentioned in today’s Gospel is this scene of the third phase of the wedding.
This is the climax of the wedding festivity where the bridegroom goes to get his bride.
This was done in a grand procession through the village – usually the longest route possible – so that all in the village could be part of this festivity.
The Ten Virgins (or bridesmaids) who are mentioned in the Gospel Passage, had the role of performing one of the acts of entertainment.
They would have to perform a wedding dance – “torch dance” around the bride and the groom, holding torches.
It would symbolize the light of their love, wishing them a luminous future.
Then the wedding party would go into the house, and the celebration would last for seven long days!
In the parable, it is mentioned that “since the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep” (Mt 25: 5)
It was only when the call that the Bridegroom had arrived was given, that Five of the Virgins realised, that “they brought no oil with them” (Mt 25: 3)
It’s so ironical that the wedding which was such a well-prepared and a long-awaited event, had these five virgins who were so unprepared and so unequipped for the grand moment!
The story of these five virgins who were unprepared (whom our Blessed Lord calls as ‘foolish”) could well be our own stories too…
How often are we too unprepared and unequipped…
… missing out on opportunities.
The Lord gives ample opportunities to get back our life on track, through various Biblical inspirations, talks, retreats, literatures etc.
… There are so many occasions that are provided for us to grow in our virtues, to learn deeper the mysteries of heaven and to illumine ourselves with holy knowledge
… We also get so many chances to build our relationship with one another, to grow in appreciation and praise of other and to discover and nurture the goodness in others
Do we make good use of all such opportunities or do we squander them away?
We celebrate today the Feast of St Monica, that exemplary mother-saint, who was ever-vigilant in interceding for her child, to get back to the ways of the Lord.
She becomes an example for us to be always be focused on the Lord, be ready for His Graces always, and to wait in patience and hope!
St. Monica’s local bishop would often console her, saying:
“God’s time will come. It is not possible that the son of so many tears should perish.”
Her prayers, authentic Christian witness, and love for her husband and son ultimately triumphed.
Her prayers bore fruit in St Augustine, the Great Doctor of the Church
May her intercession and example inspire us to live authentic and sincere Christian lives, realizing not to postpone our cooperation for salvation to the eleventh hour…
… instead, may we always keep ready “our lamps” to shine bright for the Lord with the “oil of gladness and love!”
God Bless! Live Jesus!
Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism
HE WILL COME AGAIN IN GLORY
Before His Ascension Christ affirmed that the hour had not yet come for the glorious establishment of the messianic kingdom awaited by Israel, which, according to the prophets, was to bring all men the definitive order of justice, love and peace.
According to the LORD, the present time is the time of the Spirit and of witness, but also a time still marked by “distress” and the trial of evil which does not spare the Church…
… and ushers in the struggles of the last days.
It is a time of waiting and watching (Cf. CCC # 672)