My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,1
We continue to pray this morning for our nation. We ask for a new spirit to unite us as one people, in a spirit of unity and reconciliation.
For the sanctity of every human life — from conception to natural death — is defended. And freedom of conscious and religion are guaranteed.
Let’s continue to pray for our nation.
We are still in the month of November, the month of “all souls,” and the month of “all saints.” And we are drawing near to the end of the Church’s liturgical year.
So, our readings today invite us to reflect on the purpose of our lives, and on the promise of Jesus Christ.
And as we heard in today’s second reading, we find our meaning and purpose in the cross and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
St. Paul tells us:
For if we believe that Jesus died and rose,
so too will God, through Jesus,
bring with him those who have fallen asleep.
This is a beautiful word of comfort for those who have died. And the truth that we know as Christians is that death is not the end. Death is a new beginning.
Of course, we are hearing this reading in a new way during this time of the coronavirus. So many have lost loved ones in this pandemic. Even if we do not know this loss personally, this disease confronts us every day with the reality of our mortality, the reality that we will die.
But St. Paul tells us today that we do not have to “grieve like the rest, who have no hope.” We do not have to grieve like those who have no faith in the resurrection.
If we believe in Jesus, as we do, and if we follow him and live by his commands, then we know we will rise.
And this is our great hope, the hope of our faith, my dear brothers and sisters. So, we ask today that our Lord increase our faith, increase our hope.
Then our Gospel passage presents to us the familiar parable of the wise and the foolish virgins.
I think the message of the parable is clear, Jesus wants us to be like the wise virgins in the parable. He wants us to make sure that we are prepared at the end of our lives. He wants to make sure that we are ready to meet him, that we are prepared to accept the salvation that Jesus offers us.
That means we need to have, in the words of the parable, enough “oil” in our lamps.
Now obviously the question we have to ask is what is this “oil” that Jesus is talking about?
It is the love of God, it is our prayer; all our personal acts of piety and devotion; all our efforts to work with God’s graces and to grow in virtue and holiness, and to love and serve our brothers and sisters.
As we know, the foolish virgins in the parable are not bad people. They just don’t want to work too hard in their spiritual lives. So they do not replenish their supply of oil.
And this is also a caution for us, also. Sometimes we can get a little complacent in our spiritual life.
We may think that we don’t have enough time to pray, or that we will get it done later because we have many other things that we have to do — we have the temptation of postponing and then it never happens.
My brothers and sisters, prayer should always take first place in our lives. All it takes is a few minutes each day to quiet our hearts, to center our minds on our Lord Jesus Christ.
God is expecting beautiful things from each one of us. So we need this oil — this oil of prayer, of good works, of charity— so that our lamps keep burning brightly. So that we can shine as the light of Christ into every corner of our culture and our society.
So, I think my brothers and sisters, our Gospel today is inviting us to make a brief examination of conscience.
Are we doing things with love? Are we taking time to pray? Are we performing our tasks during the day with real love and a sense of service to God? Are we making time to reach out to others, especially the ones who are in most need?
So today, let us ask for the grace to make a new resolution to “get busy” — making sure that our lamps are going strong. Maybe we can work this week on improving our relationship with God by spending a little more time in prayer. Or looking for new ways to make life better for our brothers and sisters, especially in our families.
So let’s also ask God what more we can do for the mission of the Church — what else we can do to help our neighbors to be able to go out to meet Jesus Christ like the wise virgins in today’s parable.
And let us ask our Blessed Mother Mary and the Seat of Wisdom, to help us to seek the gift of Wisdom to understand God’s plan for us.
May she intercede for us that we might renew our faith and start this anew today and everyday — that our life of faith will fill our whole life and give meaning, security and with joy to everything we do.
1. Readings: Wis. 6:12-16; Ps. 62:2-8; 1 Thess. 4:13-18; Matt. 25:1-13.