November 8, 2020: A Reflection for the 32nd Sunday in Ord. Time, Year A

Matthew 25:1-13

While the foolish virgins went off to buy oil for their lamps, the bridegroom came and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him. (Mt 25:10)

“Everybody’s looking for something” goes the old saying. Today’s Gospel of the wise and foolish virgins speaks to that ‘something’ for which we all ultimately search. In the end, it is God but that is not immediately obvious to us little creatures. It takes time and patience, falling and rising to realize that what will ultimately satisfy the human heart is a relationship with the living God, a relationship which is expressed in loving service.

The ten bridesmaids all started off with an invitation to meet the bridegroom with lighted lamps. They all accepted the invitation. But as so many things go in life, there were clear responsibilities that went with this invitation. Half the bridesmaids looked ahead and took responsibility for the circumstances that might come along. For the other half, it was enough that they were invited, but they just couldn’t be bothered with all this preparedness stuff. Besides, they were doing the bridegroom a favor by even showing up, and the wedding feast afterwards was what really mattered. In the end, they were not ready. Not ready to take on the responsibility that went with an invitation. Everybody is looking for something. Perhaps the ‘good’ those foolish bridesmaids were looking for was simply a good time, without the bother of any claim of responsibility.

The wise bridesmaids, on the other hand, were looking at a bigger picture. Sure, they looked forward to the festivities afterwards, but they were not afraid of letting the situation stretch them into something bigger. Stretch them into caring enough about the bridegroom to take extra oil, to be vigilant, to be ready. To let go of their self-preoccupation. Even when they had to wait through the hours of darkness when their patience was tried to the limit. Everybody is looking for something… They kept looking. And at the cry, “The bridegroom is here! Go out to meet him!” the good they were looking for was their reward.

Jesus, all of us have our lamps and we wait in the dark of so many situations and circumstances, straining to see your face, to hear the call, “The bridegroom is here.” Help us to take on the responsibilities you have laid upon our shoulders when you invited us to follow you, to look for you in each of your creatures and to be ready to trim our lamps with a full-hearted “yes” when you stretch us into the readiness of love. We don’t know the day nor the hour but keep us awake in the service of you in one another. Everybody is looking for something. We look for you. Show us your face.