HOMILY for November 12, 2017 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time Mt:25:1-13
At the 1893 Chicago World Fair, a group of highly distinguished scholars representing many disciplines took a long look into the future and made a number of predictions about what the world would be like in 100 years. Here are some of their conclusions for the year 1993, and these are direct quotes: “Prisons and poor houses will significantly disappear, as will divorce. Taxation will be reduced to a minimum. The entire world open to free and fair trade. There will be no need for standing armies. Governments will have grown simpler and smaller because true greatness always leads to simplicity.”
But before we laugh too hard at these erroneous words from long ago, we might ask: who among us can predict with a high degree of confidence even what is much more closer at hand, whether the Packers will win their next home game, whether next week will see the stock market rise significantly, where specifically the next big hurricane will hit, or even who will be here with us in this Chapel next week, and who will not be? Yes, we can make educated guesses, as did the scholars back in 1893; nut none of us can accurately predict the future because of the endless and ever-changing interplay of billions upon billions of factors involved in such complex events.
How then in heaven's name do we respond to today's Gospel reading? How do we avoid getting left outside like the foolish virgins in Matthew's parable? How do we prepare for a future we cannot see? What is Jesus talking about in his parable? He is not talking about updating our house insurance. He is not talking about reviewing our wills or paying our bills. Jesus is telling us to prepare ourselves, our Spirit lives, for whatever the unseen future may bring.
Inevitably, life confronts us with difficulties, disappointments and even disasters. It may also surprise us with incredibly good fortune. We've known people along the way of life who were not ready for either the good or the bad. We've seen them “crash and burn.” So we need to heed the warning of Jesus: be prepared for what comes our way. How? By maintaining a strong life of the Spirit. We are, after all, living temples of the Holy Spirit that abides within each of us.
We must have minds that see things as Jesus sees them, and hearts that are deeply rooted in the love the Spirit generates within us. If we do this, when that uncertain future becomes the certain present, we will know what to make of it all. We will not lose our direction and flail our arms hopelessly. We will respond to events with the wisdom the Spirit gives us, seeing with the eyes of faith how all things work together for the good. We wont be left outside, frustrated and disappointed. We will survive because along with the pain and suffering of this life comes the unconquerable joy and peace that God alone can provide. AMEN!