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The Weekly Word: Will you be ready?

By Fr. Tom Heathershaw, Pastor, Immaculate Conception Parish, Charles City; St. Michael, Nashua

Jesus often deals with the topic of readiness. He makes his point in the parable of the 10 virgins (Matthew 25). All 10 of them are waiting for the arrival of the bridegroom.

The Weekly Word: Will you be ready?
Fr. Tom Heathershaw

At midnight, a cry goes up to announce the arrival. The bridesmaids, who have brought the supply of oil, need it to find their way in the dark to the house. So the wedding procession, minus five bridesmaids, goes into the feast and the door is shut.

The bridesmaids who come later are refused admission. They were not prepared with lamps burning brightly when the bridegroom appeared.

The wedding is an image in the Bible which represents the union of humanity with God. This union will take place in the future, in its fullness, but a foretaste of it can be experienced even now, in the present.

Especially around Jesus the joy of the great feast could already be felt: “How can the wedding guests mourn while they are together with the bridegroom?” Jesus asked, however, Jesus also said, “The time will come when the guests will be left alone; then they will fast.”

The time after Jesus’ death and resurrection until his return in glory is the time of waiting, of “fasting” and of preparation.

What does Jesus wish to teach us with this parable? He reminds us that we must be ready for the encounter with him.

Many times in the Gospel, Jesus exhorts keeping watch, and he also does so at the end of this narrative. He says: “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour” (v. 13).

But with this parable he tells us that keeping watch does not only mean not to sleep, but to be ready; in fact all the maidens are asleep before the bridegroom’s arrival, but upon waking some are ready and others are not.

Thus, here is the meaning of being wise and prudent: it is a matter of not waiting until the last minute of our lives to cooperate with the grace of God, but rather to do so as of now.

It would be good to consider for a moment: one day will be the last. If it were today, how prepared am I? Be ready as if it were the last day: this does us good.

The lamp is a symbol of the faith that illuminates our life, while the oil is a symbol of the charity that nourishes the light of faith, making it fruitful and credible.

The condition for being prepared for the encounter with the Lord is not only faith, but a Christian life abundant with love and charity for our neighbor.

If we allow ourselves to be guided by what seems more comfortable, by seeking our own interests, then our life becomes barren, incapable of giving life to others, and we accumulate no reserve of oil for the lamp of our faith; and this – faith – will be extinguished at the moment of the Lord’s coming, or even before.

If instead we are watchful and seek to do good, with acts of love, of sharing, of service to a neighbor in difficulty, then we can be at peace while we wait for the bridegroom to come.

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