Today’s Thoughts: Our Gospel parable today is about waiting and watching but perhaps more so about actively living our faith. The parable presents us with five wise and five foolish young women who are waiting for the bridegroom to arrive.
The five foolish young women do not have enough oil to keep their lamps burning and the groom arrives and the “short sighted” ones ask the “well prepared” ones for help. Now given what Jesus often challenges us to be and do you might ask, “Why don’t the five who have give to the five who don’t have?” It would seem that is what Jesus would want us to do. He often asks us to share! Doesn’t Jesus say that all are welcome, the haves and the have nots? Perhaps, this parable is meant to scare us all into behaving lest we get caught short.
From scripture point of view the images that the parable provides for us are clear, the groom is the Christ. The young women are the Church, the believers. The oil is faith. All of us are gifted, graced with faith. So, the next question might be, the five who do not have enough oil, what or who do they represent?
Well, faith is a virtue, a grace, a gift, but it is strengthened by action. Faith cannot be passive, it must be active. Faith is not enough just to have, it must be lived. Faith-watching, faith-waiting, faith living is always active, lively, expressive of the relationship, a friendship with Jesus. Those who ask for more oil, in our parable, have not been exercising, living out the light of their faith. The reason the five wise women cannot give their oil is that God alone gives faith. I cannot give faith to anybody, only the gift of how I live out my faith as it influences my life and my living. The five did not spend the watching, waiting, living of life well and they ran out of oil, they ran out of time.
About a week ago I was reading an article on line about how Pope Francis sided with Pope Benedict in one aspect of the liturgical wars that always go on within our Church. This specific issue goes back to the present translation of the Roman Missal. Now you might not be aware of it but during the institution narrative of the Blood of Christ, under the current translation, the priest prayers, “For this is the chalice of my blood, the blood of the new and eternal covenant, which will be poured out for you and the many…” The previous translation was, “For this is the chalice of my blood, the blood of the new and eternal covenant, which will be poured out for you and for all…”
Now since the new translation has come out there has been an ongoing debate between translators, liturgists, theologians and many others. Up until a week or so ago, I took the side of those that said, “for all.” Jesus died for all. I truly believe that, however, Pope Francis has cause me to pause and look at things differently. Pope Francis said; “The ‘many’ who will rise for eternal life are to be understood as the ‘many’ for whom the blood of Christ was shed.” He added that “for many” better expresses the idea that people have a choice to make in this life – whether to be for God or against Him. In other words, faith must be lived. Yes, Jesus died for all but not everyone lives their faith, not everyone chose Christ. Jesus poured out his blood for those who live their faith.
So, we wait, watch, listen, but we do these things actively. We will be found when we live expecting to be found. Waiting involves living actively by faith so that our oil increases and the light of our lamps enlightens our hearts and souls. So, it is not just saying “Lord, Lord”, but it is about living our faith brightly in a world that is often dark, ready and waiting of Christ and the feast to come.
Christ are worth the wait, but as we find out today, waiting is more than just standing around.
Have a great Sunday everyone and don’t forget to give God a little time today!
Fr. Paul R. Fagan, C.P. "Preacher on the Run"
Just a few thoughts to help you on your journey through life...let me know from time to time what you think...