November 8, 2020 at St. Peter the Apostle and St. William in Naples, FL
Wisdom 6, 12-16 + Psalm 63 + 1 Thessalonians 4, 13-18 + Matthew 25, 1-13
This is not a parable about generosity. It is a parable about wisdom, and the Word of God speaks to us today about Wisdom. This Wisdom that is so essential for those who expect to enter into the Wedding Feast of the God’s Kingdom is not the same as knowledge. I know a lot of smart people who are very well educated, and you probably do as well, but they have no wisdom. They may know a lot of things, be very secure financially, and comfortable with their life style, but the peace and purpose in life does not come from books. It cannot be studied or be bought. That’s what some of these virgins discovered. You can’t buy wisdom, which is what an oil lamp signifies.
Wisdom is the highest virtue. Through it, God communicates to us the meaning of life, and the grandeur of our destiny which is to be with God. That is a greater good than life its self. Unlike knowledge, which is acquired through hard work, wisdom is a gift of God and is found by those who desire and seek it.
This parable is not about some of these virgins forgetting to bring enough oil. That’s not what made them foolish. They thought that this was just going to be party, an evening of some fun, laughter and one more time to kick back and celebrate. For the wise, it is not so. They have realized that this is a once in a lifetime never to be repeated chance to meet the Bridegroom, and in that attitude, there is wisdom. The wise live in this life alert, awake, always realizing that time passes never to return. The wise live alert to every opportunity to greet and welcome the Bridegroom, Jesus Christ.
This virtue, Wisdom, does not come to us in a day. It comes to people willing to wait, people who are not quick to react, but wide open to all of life seeking life’s meaning and purpose. Wisdom comes to those who take time to reflect upon their lives, and ponder God’s will in good times and in bad. I really believe that the gift of wisdom does not come to those who are in charge, powerful, and have all the answers to life’s questions.
On the 19th of April in 1995, I found myself face to face with an immense violent tragedy. A policeman had taken me to a spot just across the street from the smoking ruins of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. I found myself completely at a loss and helpless. Everyone around me was asking: “Why? Why did this happen to us?” For hours I was asking the same question in my heart. “What did we do to deserve this?” A very distraught young man charged up to me, and through clenched teach snarled at me and said: “Where is your God, priest?” I went home that night with the same question roaring in my head and heart. But the next day, when I was back down under that mess off twisted rebar and broken concrete, I saw my God crawling around, in and out of tiny cracks where the floors had pancaked down on top of each other. That first question, “Why” made no sense at that point. Wisdom spoke and I began to wonder, “What are we going to become because of this? As sick and violent as the one who caused this, or compassionate, brave, and patient?”
That’s how Wisdom works; slowly and patiently for those who wait with no need to take matters into their own hands. Wisdom teaches us that it is the hand of God that guides, inspires, encourages, and lifts up those who are bowed down. Wisdom knows this from experience, reflection, and prayer. Real wisdom will always move us toward the highest good, God himself. It is Wisdom that has brought us today into this holy place. It is Wisdom that will keep us all ready, yet not the least bit anxious or concerned, because the wise are always seeking the one who waits for us.