Ready, holding lamps that are burning
Jesus is the bridegroom whom we await. We will enter with him into the wedding feast, if with wisdom we stay awake and are ready, with our lamps burning.
Jesus informs us that we really do not know the day or the hour of his coming. He can come any day, even at an hour we least expect. That is because God’s good time does not necessarily match our expectations. In view of this, then, we need to stay awake and be ready.
And we have to be awake and ready even if it seems there is delay in the Lord’s coming. That is to say, we cannot slack off.
First, we cannot be like the foolish virgins. It is not enough to be ready for a short wait only. This means we should not work ourselves to death. And St. Vincent de Paul warns us precisely about the danger “indiscreet zeal” poses to our salvation (CRCM XII:11).
After all, indiscreet zeal masks self-love. Those who are indiscreet in this way refuse to recognize their limitations and believe they are the only ones that matter. They rely more on themselves than on God, more on their works than on grace.
And when they fail, they hopelessly lose heart. They, then, experience feelings of exhaustion and burn-out (Robert P. Maloney, The Way of Vincent de Paul 68-69). So, they are no longer ready to listen or to work. They lack the oil to keep their lamps burning. And little by little inattentiveness, laziness, the other extreme that is the opposite of genuine zeal, takes over. Mindfulness of others, says St. Charles Borromeo, does not mean forgetfulness of ourselves.
Secondly, it is not right either to do as the servant who thinks there is delay in his master’s coming. Right away this servant begins to beat the menservants and maidservants, and to live it up, eating, drinking, getting drunk.
Those who do the opposite of what fools and the unfaithful servant do are ready, with their lamps burning.
Today’s gospel does not concretize what keeping our lamps burning means. But the meaning will become clear these next two Sundays. Suffice it to say that Jesus will not open the door for those who are lazy. They are not faithful to the talents they receive. And they will stay outside, too—and Jesus will not recognize them, moreover—those who abuse others and disregard the needy.
Lord Jesus, make us assist the poor and thus be true to the celebration of the Eucharist. It is you we await: help us to be ready, with our lamps burning. Grant that we may always be with you.
12 November 2017
32nd Sunday in O.T (A)
Wis 6, 12-16; 1 Thes 4, 13-18; Mt 25, 1-13