Mission Society of the Philippines

Homilies

32nd SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME: KEEPING OUR SPIRITUAL LAMPS BURNING

Mt 25:1-13


THE CATHOLIC CHURCH teaches us that wisdom is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The ancient philosophers had taught that it is one of the cardinal virtues. Wisdom is a very different thing from book-learning. Illiterate people are frequently exceedingly wise, while learned people are often the biggest fools. Wisdom is the power to see clearly one’s ends, and their relative worth; and to select the appropriate means to one’s ends.

Wisdom is one virtue that comes and improves with age. In wisdom experience counts. This is where age has an advantage. However, we have to make some clarifications here. Just living long isn’t enough to make a person wise. A person can have many experiences and still not learn much. Thus, in wisdom, we have to incorporate or we have to make use of our experiences. Wise people have always learned from experiences.

Our readings today speak of wisdom. The theme of the readings has to do with waiting, watching and the wisdom which comes to us from being patient. And it is good to ask these questions: from a Christian viewpoint, what is wisdom? What does it mean to be “wise”?

FIRSTLY, we begin our reflections on the subject by going over what the First Reading has taught us. It is taken from the Book of Wisdom, and the first sentence says, “Wisdom is radiant and unfading, and she is easily discerned by those who love her, and is found by those who seek her”.

It is clear from this book that wisdom is a gift from God. It gives us the nice assurance, the wonderful promise of God, that wisdom is “readily perceived by those who love her, and found by those who seek her.” Wisdom is none other than God. Wisdom has been referred to person of the Holy Spirit. If we love God, and if we pray for his wisdom for our lives, our loving Father will grant us this gift.

It is interesting to note that wisdom is being personified as a woman: she is the Lady Wisdom. Biblical scholars noted that in the Old Testament times, many women were not taught to read and write, unlike their men counterparts. Men, through reading, had access to knowledge. While women, through experience, had access to wisdom. Indeed, wisdom can be gained by experience and by constant communication and relationship with God.

SECONDLY, we reflect on the Gospel today, which is about the parable of the wise and the foolish virgins. In the gospel, we can associate wisdom with our future with God. Wisdom is indeed the power to select the appropriate means to one’s ends or goal in life. The message of the parable is clear. We need to make sure that we are like those wise virgins in the parable, that we always have enough “oil” for our lamps.

What does this “oil” refer to? The oil is the life of faith. It is a life of prayer and of our personal acts of piety and devotion. It is a life of grace which we can attain by receiving constantly in the sacraments. That makes us grow in virtue and holiness.

We need to take note that the foolish virgins, mentioned in the gospel parable, are not bad people. They are just lazy and they have no desire for wisdom. In other words, they don’t want to work too hard in their spiritual lives. Or perhaps the spiritual life no longer matters to them. And that is also a lesson for us. There are times that we become too lazy in enriching our spiritual life. Often, we fail to pray and to give time for God. God deserves to have our time.

Although, most of the lamps today are no longer oil-based, there are churches up to this day which still use oil for their lamps. The oil makes the lamp burning. In a world where we don’t see much of religious fervor, we have to make a difference. We shall allow ourselves to be animated and moved by the Holy Spirit, the God of Wisdom. Also, we put some “oil” to our Christian faith so that we can make and keep it burning. In that way, we can become the much-needed witnesses of Christ in the present world. We can likewise shine as the light of Christ into every corner of our culture and our society. AMEN.

 

 


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