The readings for this Sunday, the 32nd in Ordinary Time, Cycle A, speak of Wisdom, the end of time and return of the Lord, and the parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins. Wisdom is seen as ever wandering in search of those who will love her and seek her guidance. Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians reassures the Christians of Thessalonica that even those who have died will be reunited with Jesus when He returns in glory. There was a sense of urgency among early Christians because they believed that the final coming of Jesus would occur very soon: even within their lifetimes. (Most of us don’t have that sense of urgency any more. It’s been too many years and we forget that for each of us that final coming could occur at any instant.) The wise and foolish virgins were all waiting together for a marriage contract to be completed between two families, so the ceremony and celebration could begin. Those in one group were ready, with plenty of oil to keep their lamps burning into the night and those in the other were not. The story is seen as a warning to be ready for the coming of the Lord at any time.
Father Ron Shirley’s homily offers a perspective on these themes for our times. With his permission, I share it with you.
This gospel reminds me of two special stories.
The first story:
There is a town that has four separate neighborhoods. The first neighborhood is called, “Yabuts.” The people who live there think they know what needs to be done. As a matter of fact, they talk about it quite convincingly – up to a point. When told they have an opportunity for something, the conversation goes something like this: “Ya, but…” The “Yabuts” have the answer. It just happens to be the wrong answer.
The next neighborhood is known as the “Gunnados.” Now they are some of the best-intentioned folks you could ever meet. They really understand what needs to be done, and they would have done it, if they had only followed through. They study everything that is required very carefully, and just as an opportunity drifts past them, they realize what they were “gunnado.” If only they had done what they were “gunnado.”
Another neighborhood is known as the “Wishawoodas.” These people have an excellent perspective on life – hindsight. They say, “I ‘wishawooda’ this, or ‘wishawooda’ that…” They know everything that should be done, only it’s after the fact.
The last neighborhood is known as the “Gladidids.” They are a truly special group of people. The “Wishawoodas” drive by the “Gladidids” homes and admire them. The “Gunnados” want to join them, but just cannot quite get around to it. The “Yabuts” could have been “Gladidids,” but destiny just did not smile on them. The “Gladidids” are pleased that they are disciplined enough to do what they know they should do instead of always doing what they wanted to do.
These are the four neighborhoods. In which neighborhood do you live? In which one would you rather live? 1) Yabuts 2) Gunnados 3) Wishawoodas 4) Gladidids.
The second story:
There is an ancient story about three demons who were arguing over the best way to destroy the Christian mission in the world. The first demon says, “Let’s tell all the Christians there is no heaven. Take away the reward incentive and the mission will collapse.” The second demon says, “Let’s tell all the Christians there is no hell. Take away the fear of punishment and the mission will collapse.” The third demon says, “There is one better way. Let’s tell all the Christians that there is no hurry” and all three immediately say, “That’s it! All we have to do is tell them there’s no hurry and the whole Christian enterprise will collapse.”
Some things can’t be put off to the last minute- the foolish bridesmaids needed to be reminded of this. We are reminded – happy is the person who takes to heart this message and does something about it today.