Destined for Wisdom: 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Emmanuel Sermons – 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year A
Sermon and Christian Act in The Word
Theme: Destined for wisdom! Prepare-Be watchful! Are you the foolish one or the wise one?
Point of Reflection: Are you the wise one or the foolish one? Are you watchful? Today’s scriptures readings call us to be wise and watchful. This wisdom and watchfulness consists in realising that the ultimate human destiny lies in encountering God and Christ in eternity, as Paul stated with great clarity in the second reading.
First Reading: Wisdom of Solomon 6:12–16
Psalm: Psalm 63:2–8
Second Reading: 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18
Gospel: Matthew 25:1–13
Sermon (Reflection): The first reading of today comes from the book of Wisdom. Generally, the word “wisdom” refers to the understanding and insight that enables a person to live well, and to achieve lasting happiness. However, the book of Wisdom features a unique way of describing wisdom by presenting it as a person, a woman. This “Lady Wisdom” reflects God’s own self. She accompanied God when he created the world and shared some of God’s unique attributes – she is “radiant and unfading” (cf. Wisdom 7:25-26). By making wisdom a person and associating her closely with God at creation, the author teaches that God designed human life wisely, that is with the purpose of achieving the full and lasting happiness which can be achieved by following the paths of Lady Wisdom. As Christians, do we have wisdom? Wisdom goes in hand in hand with integrity. Let us be men and women of wisdom and integrity.
Nevertheless, wisdom does not come upon a person automatically but needs to be loved and sought after. This search must be so intense as to make one “rise early”. This implies that as Christians, we must strive intensely to understand what the true goal and purpose of human life is according to God’s design. Having such understanding and modelling one’s life accordingly makes a person truly wise.
The second reading of today comes from the central part of Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians. One of the main reasons that Paul wrote this letter were doubts that the community members had regarding the fate of those who would die before Christ’s return to the earth. The Thessalonians asked Paul whether those who had died before Christ’s arrival would be at a disadvantage to those still alive at that moment.
Paul’s answer to this question was brief and precise. He began by stating that the faithful must not “grieve” for those who have died, like those who have no “hope”. For Paul, hope means the assurance of eternal life with Christ which awaits the faithful after death.
Christians can be certain that there is a common and glorious future that awaits them all. This awakening call to us Christians to never lose hope amidst challenges.
Furthermore, Paul tell us that when Christ comes again, both the dead and the living will rise together to meet him in the clouds, to escort him back to earth. This follows a formal procedure followed at the time for welcoming a distinguished and important person, such as a king or a governor, arriving to visit a city. To welcome him, the citizens of the town would go out to meet the visitor while he was still far away, and then escort him to their city in a festive procession. Applying this pattern, Paul states that the faithful, both those who have died and those still alive, will together meet the coming Lord “in the air”, which was the space halfway between heaven and earth.
Are you the wise one or the foolish one? Today’s Gospel reading narrates the story of ten bridesmaids, five “foolish” and five “wise”. All were invited to the wedding feast, all experience the delay of the feast, and equally, all fell asleep. The only difference between them is that five were adequately prepared, having enough oil for their lamps, while the other five did not think ahead and ran out of oil. With the bridegroom approaching, those who lacked oil asked for help from those who had enough. However, the request was refused. In the end, the foolish bridesmaids were shut out and excluded from the wedding feast.
This parable symbolically describes human destiny and conveys a twofold message. First, people need to prepare for encountering the coming of the Lord – the bridegroom – at the end of time. This meeting is the inescapable and ultimate fate of all human beings. The wise ones know this, and prepare adequately for that final encounter, whenever it happens. This is what Jesus meant by calling for “keeping awake”. The foolish ones also know about it, but do not sufficiently prepare for the final event.
The second important lesson is that each human being is personally responsible for making adequate preparations. The fact that the “oil” in the parable cannot be shared by the bridesmaids means that each person is responsible for their own fate.
At the time of the final judgment, someone else’s work and efforts cannot be in any measure shared or relied on by others to make them welcome into God’s heavenly kingdom. Let us also be prepared and ask for wisdom from God. Let us be watchful!
Christian Act in Word of God “are you the wise one or the foolish one? Let us be watchful and mindful?”
In many societies, there is a common belief that the elders are the ones who have wisdom. Truly they do, and we see it in them because they have a lot of experience in life. Above all, they have had clear goals set, the goals which enabled them to achieve their purpose in life and be so successful as to gain recognition and respect. But wisdom does not come automatically with age. The journey to possess her begins in youth when we begin to make choices that will put us on a certain life path.
As Christians, we have a great advantage of a good start because of our religious traditions and the Scripture, which inform us where the path to wisdom lies and guide our steps.
A young person can be already be called wise when he or she makes choices thinking ahead and looking into a distant future, and considering where the road taken will eventually lead.
The Gospel parable calls for being watchful and always prepared. The five wise bridesmaids were focused, knowing their role during the feast and prepared for any eventuality. For them, being a bridesmaid was not just all about waiting for the bridegroom to arrive, but it also entailed being responsible by doing what is necessary well ahead. Preparedness is all about thinking ahead and not allowing oneself to be negligent and lax.
As Christians, we are called to embrace a difficult but basic truth of life that we are pilgrims on this earth and our time here is limited. Knowing this and taking it seriously we will look at life with full realization that every day and hour brings us closer to its end. As Christians, this is not a frightening and depressing perspective but a hopeful expectation of meeting with the Lord which is sure to occur. No one can run away or be exempted from this moment. We are called to be responsible by making adequate preparations for that encounter which awaits each one of us. If we live our Christian vocation well, by following Christ diligently, and by living in imitation of him, we can be sure that our preparation for this meeting is going well, and we will not be found without oil in our lamps when we are summoned.
Action: I will open my heart and mind to obtain wisdom from God and have integrity.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we thank you for the gift of life and wisdom. We thank you for giving us a clear purpose in life and eternal destiny in meeting you. We thank you for our parents, school teachers, church leaders and friends who have contributed to making our lives what we are today. May we be watchful in our life, and grow in wisdom and have integrity. We ask this through Christ our Lord, Amen.
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