Deacon Greg Maskarinec’s Homily – Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Have you every found yourself driving out of your way to save 5 cents on a gallon of gas? The 50 cents that you save after pumping 10 gallons is less than the cost of the gas to drive there plus the wear and tear on your car. Not to mention the time spent driving that could hve been put to better use. Or maybe being so concerned about your grade in a class that you spend more time figuring out what score you need on the final exam to get a certain grade instead of using the time to study and actually learn the material. Or perhaps swinging by Starbucks after the gym to pick up a latte. They have more calories than you burned off at the gym! These are all examples of being “penny-wise and pound-foolish”, to use an outdated term. In other words, short-sighted…even foolishly short-sighted.
As we near the end of the liturgical year the readings at Mass are focused on the end times. These readings are intended to encourage us to examine our spiritual lives and assess whether or not we have life’s priorities in order. Today’s Gospel presents us with an example of spiritual short-sightedness. In order to see this we’ll look at the “spiritual sense” of this passage commonly employed by the Early Church Fathers.
The virgins represent members of the Church who desire to be united with Christ the bridegroom at the end of time. The lamps which the virgins carry represent their souls and the oil in the lamps represents their good works or acts of mercy and love. In the Sacrament of Baptism, their souls were cleanses and filled with the oil of God’s grace. The wise virgins are those who have lived good lives as evidenced by their lamps burning brightly, fueled by acts of love and mercy. When Christ comes they are prepared to go off to the wedding feast which represents eternal life in heaven. On the other hand, the foolish virgins do not have enough oil for they have not lived lives of love and mercy. They are locked out of the wedding feast when Christ comes at the end of time. The foolish virgins had made a voluntary sacrifice of celibacy for the sake of the kingdom, but neglected something more important…God’s desire for love and mercy over sacrifice. You might say that the foolish virgins were “penny-wise and pound foolish”.
That these foolish virgins who sacrificed so much for the sake of God’s kingdom are denied access to the wedding feast, should make us pause and reflect upon our own lives in order that we won’t be foolishly short-sighted. It should prompt us to seek wisdom. Wisdom is living out our lives in light of the fact that death is inevitable and that there will be consequences for our actions. Wisdom is allowing our souls to thirst for God. Wisdom is gazing on the Lord’s glory and meditating upon Him. Wisdom is listening to God’s word and living it out daily by being loving and merciful.
We certainly don’t want to be foolishly short-sighted in our spiritual lives! The opportunities abound to ensure our lamps are cleansed and filled with oil when the Lord comes. Instead of going to Starbucks after the gym, drink a glass of water and put$4 in the poor box! Instead of driving out of your way to save a few cents on gas, spend that time with our family or with someone who is isolated and lonely. Instead of doing just enough to get by in school or at work…discover, develop and put into action the gifts or charisms that God has blessed you with to help Him build up His kingdom here on earth. Go to confession frequently to have your lamp, that is your soul, cleansed. Attend Mass every Sunday and maybe even on a weekday to allow God to refill your lamp with the oil of His grace in Holy Communion. Let us make sure that when the voice of the archangel and the trumpet of God come down from heaven we will not have lived lives of spiritual short-sightedness. Rather let’s make sure that our lamps are filled with oil and burning brightly so that the Lord will find us ready and will take us up to the eternal wedding feast of heaven.