Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Reflection for the 21st Week in Ordinary Time, Part 2

Thursday – Stay Awake

Are you spiritually awake? If you died today, would you be ready to meet Jesus face to face? Or are you numbed by the things of the world so much that you have become insensible to the realities of eternity?

In today's Gospel, Jesus warns us to “Stay awake!” We don't know when our Lord will come for us, so we need to be prepared. How can we stay spiritually awake and ready to greet Jesus at any moment?

1. Pray. When we pray, we encounter God. Our relationship with Him grows stronger, and our awareness of His presence deepens. We get to know Him better and love Him more.
2. Read the Bible. Sacred Scripture is God's love letter to us. We should read it often, study it deeply, and meditate on it frequently.
3. Receive the sacraments, especially the Eucharist and Confession. God pours His grace out upon us through the sacraments. We must take full advantage of them.
4. Put the things of the world in their proper place. We all need to reexamine our priorities. If God is not first in our lives, then something must change immediately.
5. Learn more about God. If we aren't moving forward in our faith, we are usually moving backward. Everyone is called to delve deeply into the wonders and mysteries of our Catholic faith. We should always strive for a richer, deeper understanding of God and His plan for us.

Stay awake then! Don't be caught off guard, drowsy with the cares and pleasures of the world. Be ready to meet our Lord when He comes.

Friday – The Ten Virgins

Sometimes people feel a little sorry for the five foolish virgins in today's Gospel. They wonder why the other five young women couldn't have just shared some of their oil with the others or why the bridegroom had to be so harsh with them and not let them into the banquet. Couldn't anyone have cut them any slack?

Let's look more closely at the situation. First off, the five foolish virgins were lazy from the very beginning. They would have seen the other five virgins carrying their flasks of extra oil, but they deliberately chose not to do so too. Perhaps it was just too much work to go fill a flask. Perhaps they thought the others were silly and overly concerned. They would have known that the bridegroom could be delayed, but they didn't bother to take any precautions about it. It was just too much fuss.

So when the bridegroom finally did arrive and the five foolish virgins realized that their lamps were going out, they did the only thing they could think of. They tried to mooch oil from their better-prepared companions. But the wise virgins realized there wasn't enough oil to go around. Their job was to greet the bridegroom. The oil they had would have to be dedicated to that task. If they spread it too thin, no one would be able to light the path for the bridegroom. The foolish virgins would simply have to cope with the consequences of their earlier choices.

Off went the foolish virgins to the marketplace to buy more oil. This would have been a little difficult in the middle of the night, so they probably had to rouse more than one merchant before they found someone willing to get up and sell them oil. Again, they reaped the consequences of their actions (or lack of action as the case may be).

By the time the foolish virgins returned with more oil, the bridegroom had arrived, the feast had begun, and the door was locked. And no one would let them in! They had missed their chance. The bridegroom refused to recognize them. And why shouldn't he have made this refusal? After all, the five foolish virgins had been extremely disrespectful to him. They were supposed to meet him and light his path. But they weren't there. They were off to the marketplace trying to buy the oil that they should have taken with them in the first place. They didn't care enough to be prepared for his coming. They didn't take the time to perform one simple task, merely packing an extra flask of oil. They had made their choice. Now they had to live with it.

Saturday – God's Choice

“God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise...”

“God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong...”

“God chose the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something...”

Where do you stand with regard to God's choice?

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