“Resplendent and unfading is wisdom, and she is readily perceived by those who love her, and found by those who seek her.” Wisdom 6:12-16.
Today’s gospel speaks of a parable about foolish and wise women — those who came prepared with oil for their lamps and those unprepared for the groom’s arrival.
By any modern standard, such an allegory reflects a time when marriage was a transaction or business contract. We surmise that there was little personal engagement or even romance between couples. Instead, marriage was an arrangement. Consequently, this allegory may fall flat and distract us. However, in the mix of life, no one is immune from being foolish or wise; it’s part of the human condition!
More to the point, Matthew’s gospel reminds us that we must be on the watch for the Lord and his coming. By not burying our talents or skills, we brighten our family, community, or church with the promise of the Kingdom of God. Are you ready for the promises of Christ, and his 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.”
While we wait at the gates, like the women in the story, long-term discernment requires patience, preparation, a sense of humor, but mostly wisdom.
I’m writing this reflection on Wednesday after the 2020 Presidential election, and with final results so uncertain.
Wisdom tells us to take a breath, have patience, wait it out, and find ourselves. Where do I go for patience and wisdom? Try these examples; see if these sentiments speak to you.
The first comes from Saint Teresa of Avila (1515-1582), who prays:
Let nothing trouble you.
Let nothing frighten you.
All things are passing. God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
He who possesses God lacks nothing.
God alone suffices.
Always a favorite prayer of mine. I recommend Saint Teresa’s prayer for safekeeping.
Now for something completely different!
In a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, John Cleese, one of the irreverent founding-members of the Monty Python comedy team, admitted to his character weakness. He states:
“I don’t meditate often enough. When I do, it’s much the way Buddhists approach it. If you let a glass of cloudy water sit still, the cloudiness settles, and the water becomes clear. It takes time. You cannot hurry it.
Yes, we need to settle down and not hurry it. Wisdom takes time, especially when considering our next important step.
Lastly, here’s a prayer by Walter Bruggemann — the acclaimed scripture scholar and professor emeritus at the Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia.
Post- Election Day
You creator God, who has ordered us in families and communities, in clans and tribes, in states and nations.
You creator God, who enacts your governance in ways overt and ways hidden — You exercise your will for peace and justice and freedom.
We give you thanks for the peaceable order of our nation and for the chance of choosing – all the manipulative money notwithstanding.
We pray for our new governance that your will and purpose may prevail, that our leaders may have a sense of justice and goodness, that we as citizens may care about the public face of your purpose.
We pray in the name of Jesus, who was executed by the authorities.
Walter Bruggemann has written over seventy books and is a pioneer in homiletics studies. This prayer comes from “Prayers for a Privileged People” (Nashville: Abingdon, 2008), pp.149. Dan Clendenin recommended this selection on the weekly blog, Journeywithjesus.net.
Rosary Chapel, Santa Catalina School, Monterey, CA.