Saturday, 07 November 2020 14:30

Don't get caught napping!

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32OTAWeb400aWhen COVID-19 first emerged it was as if the whole world had been caught napping. Nations found they were, often vastly, underprepared to meet the challenges of a pandemic. Various centres for disease outbreaks had been gradually defunded, departments and Governments had grown tired and weary waiting for the next outbreak. Because it had been so long since we had faced a similar challenge, we had lost our ‘strategic readiness’.

The early Christian community for whom Matthew writes his Gospel were facing a similar situation. It had already been more than 50 years since Jesus’ return to God. How much longer were they to wait? What were they to do in the meantime? Many were starting to go ‘off the boil’. They were losing their ‘strategic readiness’ not just for meeting Jesus when he came again, but also for living as his disciples in the meantime.

Matthew uses two parable stories to try to address the situation. The first is about wise and foolish men, and the second about wise and foolish women. The point is the same in both stories.

This Sunday we hear the story about the women - ten bridesmaids waiting for the arrival of the bridegroom. When he did finally come the wise ones were ready and waiting and the foolish ones got caught unprepared and napping. The ones who were ready went into the wedding feast but the others got left outside.

The bridesmaids represent the people in Matthew’s community – a mixed group of the wise and the foolish. The wise ones are those who keep their lamps burning bright and have plenty of oil in reserve. The foolish ones do not.

The oil represents the faith and love of true disciples which keep them burning bright, bringing light and warmth to others through good deeds as they wait for the return of Jesus. This parable may be the source of our English expression, ‘the good oil’.

The disciple needs to remain alert, vigilant and prepared by continually growing in a faithful and loving relationship with God. This loving relationship with God bears fruit in good works for neighbours. That is our strategic readiness as Christians for living in our moment of history as we wait for the final coming of Jesus.

Jesus told this parable to his disciples: ‘The kingdom of heaven will be like this: Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were sensible: the foolish ones did take their lamps, but they brought no oil, whereas the sensible ones took flasks of oil as well as their lamps. The bridegroom was late, and they all grew drowsy and fell asleep. But at midnight there was a cry, ‘The bridegroom is here! Go out and meet him.’ At this, all those bridesmaids woke up and trimmed their lamps, and the foolish ones said to the sensible ones, ‘Give us some of your oil: our lamps are going out.’ But they replied, ‘There may not be enough for us and for you; you had better go to those who sell it and buy some for yourselves.’ They had gone off to buy it when the bridegroom arrived. Those who were ready went in with him to the wedding hall and the door was closed. The other bridesmaids arrived later. ‘Lord! Lord!’ they said, ‘open the door for us.’ But he replied, ‘I tell you solemnly, I do not know you.’ So stay awake, because you do not know either the day or the hour.’ (Matthew 25:1-13)

Read the Gospel reflection for this Sunday.

Join us in celebrating at home this Sunday using the resources below.

Celebrating At Home for 32 Sunday in Ordinary Time PDF    
Celebrating At Home for 32 Sunday in Ordinary Time EPUB

Lectio Divina for 32 Sunday in Ordinary Time PDF   
Lectio Divina for 32 Sunday in Ordinary Time EPUB

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