“Stay awake and be ready! For you do not know what day your Lord will come.” Matthew 25:1-13.
To re-write the lyrics of a Christmas song, “It’s beginning to look a lot like Thanksgiving, everywhere you go.”
If you take a look around Monterey, the outdoor Christmas lights are already in place on our streets. So there is a festive season ahead!
Let me mention this is the last Sunday Mass here at Santa Catalina before Thanksgiving, and we come next to celebrate Mass our “Rosary Chapel” on December 3, the First Sunday of Advent.
Today we are reading from Chapter 25 of Matthew’s gospel, and the next two Sundays are completion of this particular gospel chapter with essential statements about the coming Kingdom of God.
So much so, that today’s collect or opening prayer states: “Brighten your Church with the promise of your Kingdom.”
Indeed, Matthew 25 provides us the wisdom to be always on the watch for the Lord and his coming. By not burying our talents or skills but instead growing in wisdom, age, and grace. How do we brighten the Church and give evidence to this Kingdom?”
By service to this “invisible kingdom of the heart” in our acts of charity — by feeding those who are hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, caring for the ill, visiting those in prison, the Lord tells us: “Come, blest of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you.”
Today’s gospel speaks of the foolish and the wise today. Let’s celebrate the examples of smart women of our own time and worthy of our listening.
For me, the phrase, “God uses good people to do great things,” comes to mind. These women can be our moms, teachers, doctors, or nurses, professional women who may be future role models. Wise women all!
I have one example now, but I’ll mention another instance at the end of Mass.
Let’s consider this point, “God uses good people to do great things.” It comes from Oprah Winfrey’s remarks at the November 2005 memorial service for Rosa Parks, the civil rights activist.
I recall watching the religious service on C-SPAN, and I hung on almost every word of the many tributes by the assembled ministers, politicians, and speakers.
When Oprah Winfrey walked into the pulpit, those in the congregation and those watching from home felt a “sense of occasion.” With brevity and measured words, Oprah spoke of her growing up in the South, and how one woman confronted one white man, a bus driver, and then the law, and history.
As a young girl, upon hearing of the news of Rosa Parks’ deed of not giving up her seat on the Montgomery bus, Oprah told her father that Rosa Parks had to be “big, really big…at least 100 feet tall!”
When Oprah finally met her many years later, she was struck by how small, and petite Parks was in stature. “She was a hero to everyone who didn’t have heroes to celebrate,” said Oprah, and added, “God uses good people to do great things.”
She concluded, “In this one act, you, Rosa, reclaimed your own humanity, and gave us each a piece of our own.”
In November, with the feast days of All Saints and All Souls, we celebrate good people doing great things, the very stuff of all saints and all souls.
In Luke’s gospel, the Pharisees asked Jesus, “When will the kingdom come?” Jesus replied, “You cannot say, look here it is, or where it is. For the Kingdom of God is among you.” (Luke 20).
In a footnote in Oxford Study Bible, I discovered that the sentence “The Kingdom of God is among you” has multiple translations, including “The Kingdom of God is within you,” or, “The Kingdom of God is within your grasp.”
I especially like the “Kingdom of God is within you” — not out here, or over there.
Instead, in this invisible Kingdom of the heart, here, your actions, and your words can have a significant effect.
So it’s this invisible Kingdom of the heart that we celebrate, with an attitude of gratitude, most notably as we gather with family and friends on Thanksgiving, only several days away.
Rosary Chapel, Santa Catalina School, Monterey, CA
Judy Woodruff has been an anchor of the PBS Newshour, and over her career in journalism has made an essential contribution to a better understanding of how women’s voices help define the scope and tone of news coverage.
“Women are Speaking up about Sexual Harassment,” takes a look at this national discussion; it appeared on the PBS Newshour, November 10, 2017.