Actions have consequences. As children, we were often told that if we would do something, then we would receive a present or a reward. If we didn’t, it might result in a punishment. Geometry also uses the “If-Then Statement.” That is what our scriptures are like this Sunday. In each reading, there is a suggested action on our part, which will result in a desired outcome. There is a feminine personification of God as Wisdom, Psalm 63 and the intimate thirsting for God, the letter to the Thessalonians on believing in Christ, and Matthew’s parable of the wise and foolish virgins. In the world of instant everything, we are not good about being patient, and our follow-through can be terrible. But each reading in its own way promises us that if we diligently seek God, we will be blessed and rewarded, and that it is worth the work and the wait!
KEEP YOUR LAMPS
In the old spiritual, “Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning” we hear the imperative to wait and be ready, and while there are many variations, it usually ends “The world is nearly done.” “The time is drawing near.” or “The day is dawning nigh.” The liturgical year is near its end, and we begin to feel that tension of “already but not yet” as the readings become more eschatological (about the end-times) in nature. We are called to wait patiently. Yet, like the wise and foolish virgins, we run the risk of falling asleep, and or running out of oil. Waiting for God, preparing for God, requires much hope, much preparation and discipline, and at times it is counter-intuitive. We must put aside impatience or the desire for immediate gratification and keep the end in sight. In running terms, it is not a sprint, but a marathon.
TRIMMED AND BURNING
So how do we do this? Whether we are sitting in the pew or one of those involved more intimately in liturgical ministry, this is a call for spiritual self-maintenance. None of our scriptures today is passive. Seeking and waiting for God requires work. Presence and participation in the liturgy are among the easiest and most natural ways to provide fuel for our spiritual lamps. But like a car, we need to do more than just put in gasoline. There are other needs to attend to for upkeep. Just read the opportunities in this bulletin! Perhaps you may want to attend a parish scripture class or find a spiritual book to read. Sign up online to receive the daily readings or some sort of daily reflection. Find a spiritual podcast to listen to on your commute home from work or turn off the news and music and drive in morning silence. Share simple, regular prayer times as a family such as at meals and bedtime. Experience the sacrament of Reconciliation. Or maybe you do too much, and the call is to let go of something. Do not become burned out or lose heart. Take courage and remember, “The day is drawing nigh!” Amen.
Psalm 63:2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 [13-14]
© J. S. Paluch 2020. All Rights Reserved.
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