The following is by Father Valentine Young, OFM, a faithful Catholic priest who died on 17 January 2020. It was delivered sometime between 2013 and 2020. To learn more about Father Valentine, please scroll to the bottom of the page.
32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
* PDF Download • READINGS IN ENGLISH
—Taken from the Saint Isaac Jogues Illuminated Missal, Gradual, and Lectionary.
HE GOSPEL for today has been used for centuries in the traditional calendar in Masses for celebrations of the feasts of virgins like, Saint Clare, Saint Scholastica, Saint Catherine, Saint Margaret Mary, and many others. The reason is easy to see. These saints were ready to meet the bridegroom when He came for them. They were not like the foolish virgins who were unprepared. This Gospel passage may be chosen for a funeral Mass in the post-conciliar (“Vatican II”) rite of funerals. Now, I must admit that I have never been at any funeral in which this was the Gospel passage chosen. It probably doesn’t fit the mentality—incidentally, an erroneous and dangerous mentality—of thinking that everyone is necessarily going to go to heaven. At least from this Gospel parable, things didn’t look too auspicious for those virgins who had run out of oil…(!)
Running out of oil: I wonder how many different answers would we get, if I asked: “What did Jesus really mean by running out of oil?” Rather than wasting a lot of time by speculating, I’m going to tell you bluntly that He meant not having sanctifying grace at the moment of your death. And the cold fact of the matter is that we can’t share it with others; neither can others share it with us. This is definitely an “each man to and for himself job.”
First reading: And today I must admit that I didn’t find it too hard to connect the Gospel reading with the First Reading. Summarily, the First Reading tells us about the great value of wisdom. In past sermons I know I have tried to point out the difference between knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge is having the facts. Wisdom is knowing what to do with them. The wise person will act and judge not only in regard to how something affects him or her now, but how something might affect him or her in the long run—especially in eternity. That is why we speak of these wise virgins in contrast to the foolish ones.
Wise use of gift of time: The easiest interpretation of this section of St. Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians is that these early Christians—including St. Paul himself—were expecting the second coming of Christ to happen soon. And it seems they were looking forward to it. Now obviously they were wrong, because it has not happened yet. Yet this does not militate against what we call the “inerrancy” of the Bible. The Bible just recalls facts the way things were. The Bible isn’t saying that the end of the world was coming soon at that time; it just says that some of the people thought it was. However I think we might tie in that idea in how we might want to live. If we are truly wise we will try to live and use our time as if the end of the world—(and if not the end of the world, at least our own end)—is just around the corner. We are certainly going to be prepared by being in the state of grace, and perhaps we will be using our time in praying more, rather than sitting in front of a Television set, or an iPhone or some other gadget.
Conclusion: Many years ago, when I was first being given some instructions about driving, someone jokingly and yet with a bit of seriousness told me, “Always drive as if you thought there was a policeman right in back of you!” That would certainly keep one from speeding and doing anything else illegal. My advice is: “Live wisely; the day you are living may be your last!” +