Friday, 21st Week in Ordinary Time

            Today’s gospel reading talks about preparedness and readiness. After telling the Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids, Jesus says: “Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” With these words Jesus asks his followers to ponder his return and to be always prepared “for the unexpected.”

            This raises an important question that we must ask: What constitutes being always prepared? What does the lamp in the gospel parable represent and what does the oil in the bridesmaids’ lamps stand for? We can get the answer from the Sermon on the Mount. There, Jesus compares the good deeds people do to the oil burning brightly in a lamp. Jesus says, “Your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.” (Mt. 5:16) The oil that keeps our lamps flaming and shining are the good seeds in our hearts and the good deeds we do in our daily life.

            Let’s make sure that our lamps are filled with the oil of grace that they may remain flaming and shining until the Lord Jesus returns. Let us keep our lamps filled with the oil of God’s goodness and kindness so that we can be good and kind and do good to others. To be good and kind even to those who are not good and kind to us, even to those who seem to make life difficult for us, and even to those who take for granted what we do for them. Let us keep our lamps filled with the oil of God’s mercy and forgiveness so that we can be merciful and forgiving to one another. To show mercy, not judgment and condemnation, to those who are morally weak and lost and to help them to find the way to repentance and conversion. To forgive those who have hurt us, who have failed us, who have betrayed us – to forgive them without setting limits. Let us keep our lamps filled with the oil of God’s compassion so that we can feel the pain of the suffering Christ in the person of the sick, the weak and the afflicted, To let this compassion move us to do something to alleviate their pain, to better their situation, and to help them to experience wholeness.

            Again, let us keep our lamps filled with the oil of God’s grace. Let the lamp of practical love, transforming faith, and patient hope keep burning in the depth of our heart.

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