Scripture Reflections

 

Gospel Meditation

32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

"But the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps."

 

The foolish versus the wise. Today's parable sets these two groups in stark contrast to one another. Two crowds of young women wait for a wedding feast. One group comes prepared for the unexpected, the other just assumes everything will go according to schedule. But it doesn't! The Bridegroom is late, and the foolish virgins are left out in the dark--literally--while the wise ones enjoy the feast inside.

The lesson here is not just about having foresight and   gathering the corresponding equipment. It's about being ready for the second coming of Christ. Jesus himself is the "Bridegroom." Traditionally we refer to the Church as the "Bride of Christ" and we, as the people of God who constitute the Church, are even now awaiting the real feast, the culmination of time when Jesus returns. But are we standing among the wise or the foolish as we wait?

Jesus tells us today, "Stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour." Are we spiritually awake? Do we have extra oil to see us through, or are we hitting the bottom of the barrel and running on spiritual fumes so to speak? Do we think it's enough to do the bare minimum as we wait for Christ--stepping into church without really being present, or calling ourselves Christian without really taking up the challenge of the cross? In order to avoid standing outside the feast with the foolish, we will want to make sure we fill our flasks with oil or, in other words, fill our hearts with the love of God, fill our minds with his word and his teachings, and fill our souls with the virtues that unite us to his will. If we stock up on these important supplies, we can count ourselves among the wise!

 

Live the Liturgy

 

Are we ready and prepared for what life will ask of us? The answers to life's challenges, especially those that involve purpose, meaning, and happiness are not found in material things or by searching the Internet. Many things in life require a journey of the heart and the acquisition of wisdom. When one acquires wisdom, one acquires priceless wealth. Sadly, pursuing wisdom is not valued by our world these days. Examining our lives, pondering the bigger questions, reflecting on where we have been and where we are going, are invaluable exercises that not only bring us wisdom but open our eyes to God's presence. Those who seek wisdom shall not be disappointed and will always be ready for whatever comes their way.

 

Questions of the Week

Reflect and Respond to Scripture

 

Matthew 25:1-13

The parable of the ten virgins forewarns believers to be  prepared for the return of Christ. How do you think this is best accomplished?

 

Wisdom 6:12-16

The virtue of wisdom is personified in today's reading. What do you think our author means by saying wisdom is "the perfection of prudence"?

 

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 or 4:13-14

According to Paul, what is the sequence of events that will occur at the second coming of Christ?

 

 

 

 

Gospel Meditation

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

"But the man who received one went off and dug a hole in the ground and buried his master's money."

 

 

This servant was scared. He didn't want to take any risks and just wanted to play everything safe. As he confesses to his master, "Out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground." And the master was not pleased. The other servants who invested the money he gave them were richly rewarded for their efforts to produce more. But this servant was punished for letting his fear rule the day.

 

What factors are keeping us from making a return on God's investment in us? He has given us all life, and each of us also has a special collection of "talents" to make use of. We have certain gifts, skills, experiences, resources, and abilities that (though we may not often think about it) come from God. He calls us to make the most of these things, not just to take them for granted or bury them in the ground, so to speak. Our gifts are meant not just for our own enjoyment, but to help others, to spread truth and goodness and beauty to the world around us.

 

Sometimes, however, we fail to really capitalize on our  potential. Laziness, distraction, or self-pity can get in the way if we are unwilling to put in the hard work to improve our natural gifts, if we allow ourselves to zone out with entertainment or frivolous pastimes instead of making good use of the time entrusted to us, or if we wallow in negativity by focusing on what we DON'T have instead of embracing what we do.

 

Each moment is a gift from God. May we seize every opportunity to multiply the investment God has made in us so that we may be worthy to hear God tell us, "Well done, my good and faithful servant."

 

Live the Liturgy

Every one of God's children is a unique creation with talents and gifts that are found in no one else. Each of us is asked to bring our special "twist" to life and to living the Gospel, leaving our impact on the world in a way that no one else can. Are we ever afraid to use our gifts or to be who we are? Fear can cripple us and prevent us from discovering the profound and creative ways in which we can become the person God meant us to be. We like our comfort zones and do not like to be stretched and challenged. Yet this is necessary if we are going to produce the fruit we are capable of producing and live the radical message of the Gospel. For serious Christians, the status quo has got to go!

 

 

Questions of the Week

 

Matthew 25:14-30 or 25:14-15, 19-21

How do you know if you have been a "good and faithful servant" of the Lord?

 

Proverbs 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31

Why do you think this Jewish wisdom writer talks about the value and virtues of "a worthy wife"?

 

1 Thessalonians 5:1-6

What do you do to maintain a focus on the eventual return of Christ?

 

 

 

GOSPEL MEDITATION

November 26, 2017

Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ,

King of the Universe

 

"Amen, I say to you,

whatever you did for one

of the least brothers of mine,

you did for me."

 

Today we celebrate the feast of an unusual kind of king. Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, does not run his kingdom in the standard fashion. Instead of insisting upon the pomp and  circumstance that usually surrounds earthly royalty, Jesus has a different focus. He thinks not of himself, but of those he loves. And in today's Gospel, his interest is especially focused on the poor and suffering in our midst.

Our King asks us to care for those in need--the hungry, the homeless, the foreigner, the sick and suffering. But then, he goes farther; he tells us that in caring for these least brethren, we will be ministering to HIM! What an incredible promise. Not only do we carry out the command to love our neighbor when we protect those in need, but we also show our love for Jesus in a direct and concrete way. This love for Christ through others is so real that Jesus   actually tells us that our place on Judgment Day will depend on it: "'What you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.' And these will go off to eternal punishment." On the other hand, the "righteous" who ministered to the weak and poor will enjoy eternal life. Our King has spoken loud and clear. Now comes the question of whether or not we are obeying his orders?

Each of us is called to examine how well we are caring for the least among us. Sometimes, this means giving our time and energy for special ministries or missions, but often it means caring for those right in front of us--the sick or suffering in our own homes, families, neighborhoods, or parishes. Whatever our situation, may we have the eyes to see Christ in our midst and serve him.

 

Live the Liturgy

 

As the King of the universe, Christ does not desire earthly power or kingly admiration. What Christ our King desires is that we advocate and work for those most in need among us: the poor, the unfortunate, the forsaken, the abused, and the exploited. Providing for the basic needs of others is a human right that we must strive to fulfill. If someone is hungry, feed her. If someone is without shelter, provide one. If a person requires clothes, clothe him. When others are in harm's way, find them safety. When it comes to basic human needs, it does not matter WHY a person is in need; all that matters is that someone IS. That's where you and I, who are citizens of God's eternal kingdom, come in. What we do for the least of these, we do for God.

 

Questions of the Week

Reflect and Respond to Scripture

 

Matthew 25:31-46

Just prior to his passion, Jesus speaks of the judgment of the nations at the end-time. How do you think the Lord will judge our nation at the end of time--as a sheep or a goat?

 

Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-17

Why do you think God shows more concern for the "lost" sheep of his flock rather than "the sleek and the strong" sheep?

 

1 Corinthians 15:20-26, 28

Paul informs the Corinthians of the sequence of events that will lead to the end of time. How does the idea of the fulfillment of time inform your spiritual life?