READY FOR THE LORD

32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time         

            “Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

            Imagine if you knew the day and hour you would pass from this life. Of course, some people do know that death is approaching either due to illness or age. But think about this in your own life. What if you were told by the Lord that tomorrow is that day. Are you ready?

            Most likely there would be many practical details that would come to mind that you would want to take care of. Many would think about all their loved ones. They would think about their safety and security, their readiness to accept the inevitable, and the impact this would have on them. Set that all aside for now and ponder the question from one perspective only: Are you ready to encounter the Lord Jesus?

            We all know well the Parable of the Ten Virgins: five are wise and five are foolish. The foolish ones do not bring along any additional oil. As the bridegroom is delayed, they all fall asleep. At midnight the bridegroom comes. The wise go in with him to the banquet. The foolish are late and miss the opportunity. And failing to perform their role in the wedding they remain outside.

            The most important lesson of this parable is: We must be ready for our encounter with the Lord. And to be always prepared for this encounter we have to make sure that our lamps are stocked with oil. We must not wait for the last moment of our life to fill our lamps with oil. Rather, we must do so already and from now on. We must already be cooperating and collaborating with God. We must already be filling the lamps of our life with the oil of grace.

            Once you pass from this life there is only one thing that will matter. What will the Lord Jesus say to you? Certainly, you do not want to hear what the Lord tells the foolish ones in the gospel parable – those who beg, “Lord, Lord, open the door for us!” We do not want the Lord to tell us, “Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.”

            Pope Francis has this commentary on today’s gospel: “The lamp is the symbol of faith that illumines our life, while the oil is symbol of the charity that nourishes, makes fruitful and credible the light of faith.” If we are to be prepared to encounter the Lord at any time, on any day, we must have charity in our lives. Charity is much more than a passion or emotion of love. Charity is a radical commitment to love others It is a daily habit we form by choosing to put others first, offering them all that Jesus asks us to give.

            Charity enables us to our life serving, helping, loving people who, in the eyes of the world, do not matter at all. It enables us to spend our life doing these apparently unimportant, insignificant, ordinary things. It enables us to see the needs of others and respond accordingly.

            It is said, “If you want to be happy and be somebody put others before yourself.” “Jesus put you before himself.” “Jesus is great, not only because of what he did, but why he did it: He humbly put you before himself.”

            We are not to let ourselves be motivated by selfishness – be preoccupied with living our lives for ourselves only, be absorbed by the pursuit of our own interests, be guided by what is convenient and comfortable to us, be conditioned and dictated by the materialistic world, be caught up in doing and getting things for ourselves. Because when that happens, our life becomes sterile, incapable of giving life to others. Only charity can make our life fruitful and life-giving. We need charity in order to be ready to meet our Lord. We have to commit ourselves to love others with the love of God, with the heart of Christ.

            Let us end with a prayer: Lord, I pray for the gift of charity, the gift of practical love in my life. Please fill me with Your love and help me to let it flow to others. Make me generous with this love by loving others with Your love. Deepen my commitment to those whom You want me to love. May I hold nothing back and, in so doing, be fully prepared to meet You whenever You call me home. Amen.

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