The current pandemic and civil unrest along with the recent wildfires, hurricanes, earthquakes and floods have led to a new wave of predictions that the end of the world is close at hand. The story of the ten bridesmaids in the Gospel points out the danger of trying to make such predictions (Matthew 25:1-13). Like the bridesmaids who did not know when the bridegroom would return, we do not know when the Lord will return. Five of the bridesmaids made sure they had enough lamp oil to last until whenever the bridegroom returned. Five of them did not have enough oil. They missed the arrival of the bridegroom and were locked out of the celebration.
Rather than waste time trying to predict when the Lord will return, the Gospel message is to always be prepared for his arrival into our lives. Our Christian lives are not about meeting the Lord in the future as some kind of prize for our good efforts in this life. Rather, we are to be about preparations that ready us for meeting him as he arrives in our lives every day.
Preparing is difficult. Preparations take time, thought and patience. For example, in preparing for a trip, it takes time to plan the transportation, book the accommodations, and decide what to take. It takes thought to figure all of that out. It also takes patience because we can be so eager to get on the road that we could be tempted to skip the time it takes to be prepared.
Preparing to encounter the Lord can also be challenging. Our preparations include spending time in prayer. We need to plan time to participate in Mass either in person or online. Even though in-person participation in the life of the parish is limited, we can still make efforts to avail of online opportunities for spiritual nourishment and connection with what is going on. Preparing for the Lord means being thoughtful, using our intelligence to explore life’s questions. It means taking opportunities to learn more about our Church’s teachings and to seek good counsel before making important decisions. We also need to be patient, knowing it is sometimes difficult to recognize the fruits of our efforts.
In the Gospel, those who were not prepared did not get into the party. Preparing for the Lord takes time, thought and patience. Being prepared is so worth it. Just ask the bridesmaids.
Together in faith,
Very Rev. Christopher H. Smith, Rector