The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for the home
November 12th, 2017 – 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
The Boy Scouts of America were recently in the news because they are soon to allow girls into their organization. But that’s not what we are going to discuss here. Rather, we are going to discuss what may be the most remembered motto of the boy scouts. “Be prepared.” That’s at the heart of the parable Jesus taught about the Wise Virgins.
To more fully understand this parable, it’s helpful to know a little about wedding celebrations at the time of Jesus. If it could be afforded, they were large celebrations, sometimes lasting days. Food and drink were provided (recall the wedding feast at Cana when Jesus, at the request of his mother, helped keep that feast going).
And there were rules for wedding feasts. One was that once the feast began, no one was admitted who was not already inside. Sort of like coming in a few minutes late for a symphony concert. You are kept outside until there’s a break in the performance. Well, at a wedding feast, there was no break. If you were late, too bad.
The gospels often use examples drawn from wedding feasts to explain the arrival of the Kingdom of God because they were well known by all. They were wonderful events. In today’s gospel the focus is on being “ready to go” when entry to the feast is possible. Be prepared! Have your light lit, which is a way of saying “keep your eyes open.”
Entrance into God’s Kingdom is a personal matter. When God’s invitation arrives, we are advised to be ready. Sometimes the invitation is called “grace” from God. That grace can come at any time. It is often wrapped in an opportunity to serve the need of another person. A child is suddenly frightened and the parent steps in to assure the child that everything is all right. A teen is down because of a poor grade on a test. A friend reassures and consoles the temporarily defeated student. A grandparent feels lonely until a daughter calls from across the country to see “how mom is doing.” These are very ordinary acts of kindness, but they can also be a response to an invitation to enter God’s Kingdom – at least for a while. So, be prepared for that invitation to the wedding banquet. It may come later today.
©David M. Thomas, PhD