7-8 November 2014
Homily of the Apostolic Nuncio
His Grace Archbishop Petar Rajič
Wis 6:12-16; 1Thes 4:13-18; Mt 25:1-13
The parable of the ten virgins in today’s gospel reading reminds us of the need for the light of wisdom in order to be constantly living our lives as burning flames always ready for our final encounter with the Lord. The ten virgins who were asked to await the arrival of the bridegroom, who is Christ the Lord, by staying awake and keeping their lamps alight until his arrival are an example of our human journey of faith.
The foolish virgins. A flame of light was given to all ten virgins, yet five of them were wise while the other five foolish. The foolish ones did not prepare themselves properly for the arrival of the bridegroom. They felt that they had enough oil and that the arrival of the bridegroom was imminent. These foolish virgins represent those of the faithful who have received the light of faith yet who are impatient with God and expect the Lord to come to them at their bidding. In their impatience they do not take the time to prepare themselves for a lengthy wait, for possible delays, and ultimately they do not have the inner spiritual strength to remain faithful to the end by keeping the light of faith alive within them.
The behaviour of the foolish virgins warns us that there are certain things in life which cannot be obtained at the last minute. It is far too late for a student to be preparing when the day of the examination has come. It is too late for a man to acquire a skill, or a character, if he does not already possess it, when some task offers itself to him. Similarly, it is easy to leave things so late that we can no longer prepare ourselves to meet with God. A “Heaven can wait” attitude can also be tragic, since we never truly know when the Lord will call us from this world to judgment. Along with this we can’t be overconfident and think that our salvation has already been guaranteed and therefore we can do as we like, because God will save us anyway. Salvation is a gift from God, for Jesus has truly saved us, yet it is up to us to accept his gift of salvation gratefully and responsibly, by producing the proper works of charity in our daily lives, working on our own sanctification and offering our lives and service to God as a sacrifice of thanksgiving.
The attitude of the five foolish virgins warns us that there are certain things in life that cannot be borrowed. They found it impossible to borrow oil, when they discovered they needed it. A man cannot borrow a relationship with God; he must possess it for himself. A man cannot borrow a character; he must be clothed with it. We cannot always be living on the spiritual capital which others have amassed. There are certain things we must win or acquire for ourselves, for we cannot borrow them from others. One cannot count on the “wasta” system in order to enter heaven. It takes a personal and constant effort that does not count on friendships with the influential.
The wise virgins. Those with faith know that they must always awaken a desire in their hearts to meet the Lord. They understand the necessity of staying awake and having extra oil available in case the bridegroom comes late. The wise virgins represent those that patiently await the arrival of the Lord into their lives – in his time. The wise know that the Lord does not always reply immediately, in fact, often times he keeps us waiting. Yet even though his arrival may be delayed, it does not mean he will never come. In fact what may seem as a late arrival on the Lord’s part actually serves as a time for reflection, renewal and preparation for us. Our personal capacity to be patient and stay committed to the bridegroom, who is Christ the Lord, is ultimately a true sign of our loyalty, faithfulness and devotion to him. This is why we always need to ‘stock up on oil’ in our devotion, in order to keep our lamps burning brightly through drops of love, kindness, patience, joy, selflessness, prayer and forgiveness, which make it possible for our life of faith to shine brightly, like a candle in the darkness, providing energy and light for us and those around us.