32nd Sunday in Ordinary time
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Jesus was a storyteller, and every story he told carried a message. We call these stories parables, and they are remarkable for the impact that they could have on all his listeners, not only those who could read and write, but ordinary simple illiterate folk could always have something to think about when he told a story. One of his techniques was exaggeration. Many of his stories just don’t fit the normal pattern of life as we experience it. They are larger than life, all to gain attention to his lesson, to make people think, open their minds to the Kingdom of God.
So, there are five smart girls and five dumb. Things prepared, nothing prepared. The five smarties were mean, refusing to share. The dumb ones scrambling for oil missed the grand entrance of the bridegroom. Too late at the door, they are locked out, and the great man says, “I do not know you”.
What is Jesus saying to you and me? What thought is he trying to stir up in us? Be ready! Our Baptism transforms us, prepares us for further growth in the likeness of Christ, and guarantees support along the way. This lifelong process must not be delayed, must not be put off, and must be followed with a whole heart all our days. If we wander off hungry for selfish good, if we neglect this wonderful life that God has given us and pursue our material desires, we can expect that we, too, will not be ready on that great day. He does so long to see us enter that door in good time.
In our first reading, Wisdom hastens to make herself known in anticipation of our desire and shows the true path. And, of course, Paul reminds us that our transformative path transcends death, that there is life beyond death, life with Christ.
So, as Jesus would have it, all we need is to enter that door!
Jeff Foale is an Australian Passionist living in Vietnam, a former New Guinea missionary with a passion for service of the poor and refugees and who loves life in all its forms and enjoys photography.