Archive for category Parousia
Parables are comparisons in which spiritual truth is pictured in vivid terms (Blomberg 1990). In the story Jesus used the parable to explain the wise ways of the Kingdom of God concerning the mystery and problem of evil not only in the world but even in the Church which is the seed and the beginning of the Kingdom of God here on earth that will be fully and perfectly established in heaven.
The parable Jesus used is popularly known as the Parable of the Weeds Among the Wheat.The type of weed referred to here is commonly recognized as the darnel (Greek zizania) which is troublesome poisonous plant in the grainfields, closely resembling the wheat in the first stages of its growth. By the time the grain appears and the difference becomes obvious, the roots of the weeds are entwined with those of the wheat. Thus uprooting the weeds would simultaneously cause uprooting of the wheat.
This parable reflects the wise ways of God’s kingdom (which already starts with the Church) concerning the problem of evil even among the believers. It is unwise to get rid of unworthy members which may have the unhappy consequence of driving out also some of the worthiest. Therefore, weeds and wheat must be allowed to grow together for the time being. The task of separating the evil from the good must be reserved for the last judgment.
The Parable of the Weeds among the Wheat teaches us several lessons:
- First, there will always hostile power in the world (Satan, the world, concupiscence or evil inclination) seeking and waiting to destroy the good seeds that represent the children of the Kingdom who received with joy the word of God that will eventually bear fruits of good works, holiness and evangelization in their lives. Hence, this is an admonition to all the Children of God to be forever on their guard. This vigilance should be continuous and unflagging, because the devil is forever after us, prowling around “like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). “Watch with the heart, watch with faith, watch with love, watch with charity, and watch with good works” (cf. Augustine, “Sermon”, 93).
- Second, the world including the Church is composed of both saints and sinners, good and evil. The world is a mixture of the children of God and the children of Satan. And how hard it is to distinguish between the good and evil, the saints and the sinners. Someone may appear to be good and may in fact bad; and someone may appear to bad and may in fact be good. Some call good evil and evil good. Sometimes people change too according to opportunities and graces. Hence, let us not too quick to condemn, to classify people and label them good or bad without knowing all the facts. Remember our human judgment is as good as our information, Limited information make us prone to error and mistakes in making judgment.
- Third, in the end there comes the judgment of a just and all-knowing God. A God who will never deceive us nor can be deceived by us. He alone has the right to judge. He alone can discern the good and the bad. He alone can rightly administer the ultimate justice for humankind which seems to be impossible in the world governs by the law, judgment and wisdom of man. This is a warning to the evil doers who seem to be rewarded in life in this world and a consolation to the righteous who seem to be punished in life in this world.
In summary, Jesus calls us to patience and faith — patience with those who fail to meet the standard (this is the concern of the parable itself — vv. 24-30) and faith that God will deal with them at the right time (this is the concern of the interpretation — vv. 36-43). Jesus calls us to withhold action lest we create more problems than we solve — lest we destroy the good with the bad — lest we “uproot the wheat along with (the weeds).”
Think about this! “First, do not fret over evildoers, for neither their present nor their future is your responsibility; and second, God will bring history to a close with justice, and the saints finally will be freed from abuse and oppression. The parable…is therefore not a threatening but a comforting word” (Craddock, 372).
In the preceding parable, Jesus warned us against unreadiness and extolled the value of wathcfulness, vigilance and readiness. While, in the proceeding parable he dramatically shifted to another metaphor in which he compares his Second Coming to the unexpected arrival of a thief. He said to his disciples, “You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour” (Lk 12:14). The Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour, like a thief at night. And he will come again in glory to judge both the living and the dead.
In that Day of Judgment at the Parousia or when the call of death arrives, “each one of us shall give account of himself or herself to God” (Romans 14:12) as a steward of the gifts of nature and the blessings and graces of God. What is a steward? A steward in ancient culture was a slave who was left in charge of domestic affairs when the master was away (16:1; 1 Cor 4:4-5; Michel 1967:149-51). The steward’s major responsibility was to care for the other servants’ welfare, especially to allot food to them. Food might be handed out daily, weekly or monthly. A steward’s job was to serve, not to exercise power. This may well be why Jesus uses the image (Manson 1957:118).
What kind of steward God expects us? God expects Christian as accountable, faithful and productive stewards of God’s grace and gifts of creation, life, body, talents and skills and wealth and possession.
Negatively, in order that the Lord will find us responsible, faithful and productive stewards when he comes in glory, let us avoid some of these pitfalls and mistakes while awaiting the second coming of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior:
· First, complacency that Jesus’ return is not yet imminent.
· Second, idleness or sloth. Doing nothing.
· Third, gross negligence in the performance of duties.
· Fourth, procrastination. Always postponing to another day what can be done for today.
· Fourth, abuse of power and position and squandering of resources.
· Fifth, manana habit. Only good in beginning. Lack of perseverance.
Positively, let us religiously perform the tasks require of us and fulfill our role as stewards of God’s gifts and graces:
· First, protect, preserve and conserve all Gods’ gifts entrusted to us.
· Second, develop to the maximum all the spiritual, material and physical resources entrusted to our care.
· Third, communicate and share all the fruits and benefits of the gifts and talents we preserved, developed and cultivated.
Good stewards will be generously rewarded while bad stewards will be severely punished and will suffer a great loss. “The reward or punishment will be proportioned to the powers, gifts, opportunities, and knowledge of the offenders.” As scripture says: ‘everyone to whom much is given, of him will much be required’; cf. Mt 5:19-20; 7:21-22; 25:41-46; Jas 2:14.
Friends, if and when the Lord comes now, do you think will he find you responsible, faithful and productive stewards or lazy, abusive and unfaithful stewards. Can you give him an account of your stewardship? Remember, “What we do in life, echoes in eternity” (Gladiator Poster).
In this parable the main theme is stewardship. It answers question on how to handle all the gifts of nature and grace which God has given us. To be a true steward, they should be handled wisely, responsibly and productively. They should yield a profit or bear fruit. It does not matter how many gifts we have received; what matters is our generosity in putting them to good use. We will be judged by God based on our stewardship at the end of time.
This parable gives us five points to be considered in pursuing the virtue of stewardship:
First, God gives to every man according to his several ability (see Matthew 25:15). Every one to whom much is given, of him will much be required” (Lk 12:48). The true standard for distribution of wealth is not, as expressed by the Marxist view, “to each according to his need,” but rather to each “according to his ability.” The reason lies in the fact that without ability, even that which a man receives shall be wasted, neglected, or diminished, and in the law of economic progress there can never be, in the final analysis, any substitute for ability.
“Some of us are too quick to assume that we are the second- and third-string players or that we are spiritual klutzes. We forget that God, in his perfect judgment, adjusts credit and blame to allow for the circumstances of the individual in question. The gospel is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ arrangement in that regard. God puts us all in different circumstances in this life and judges us accordingly. In the Parable of the Talents, it didn’t matter that one servant had been given five talents and the other only two. What mattered most was what both servants did with what God gave them. The Master said to each of them, ‘Well done, thou good and faithful servant’ (“Matt. 25:21Matthew 25:21). It is better to be a faithful second-string player with limited talents (pun intended) than to be an unfaithful superstar” (Following Christ: The Parable of the Divers and More Good News, 34.).
Second, gifts and graces are not only to be preserved but to be develop to make it productive for the common good of all.
“Now we come to the one-talent servant (see “Mt 25:26-30). We are saddened and disappointed in this part of the drama because first there was an excuse, then a display of the fear that caused him to hide the talent. He had been afraid to assume the responsibility. His attitude was one of resentment and faultfinding, saying he found the master to be a hard man, even harvesting where he had not sown. There are many in the world like this servant, idle and unwilling to work for their master—interested only in themselves. There are those who become so involved in the things of the world and their own selfish interests that they will not make the attempt or put forth the effort to magnify one little talent entrusted to them by the Lord.” (Howard W. Hunter, The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, edited by Clyde J. Williams, 262.)
“Likewise the Church member who has the attitude of leaving it to others will have much to answer for. There are many who say: ‘My wife does the Church work!’ Others say: ‘I’m just not the religious kind,’ as though it does not take effort for most people to serve and do their duty. But God has endowed us with talents and time, with latent abilities and with opportunities to use and develop them in his service. He therefore expects much of us, his privileged children. The parable of the talents is a brilliant summary of the many scriptural passages outlining promises for the diligent and penalties for the slothful. (see “Mt. 25:14-30.) From this we see that those who refuse to use their talents in God’s cause can expect their potential to be removed and given to someone more worthy. Like the unproductive fig tree (see Mt. 21:18-20) their barren lives will be cursed. To them on judgment day will come the equivalent of these devastating words:
’. . . Thou wicked and slothful servant . . . Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers—. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents—. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ (Mt. 25:26-29, 30.)” (The Miracle of Forgiveness, 100).
Third, gifts and graces are entrusted to us to be used, not for safekeeping or to be hidden away; not for our own gain, but for the Lords’ purposes here upon earth. The Lord expects us to use our talents in his service.
“The special talents with which we have been blessed—our intelligence, physical abilities, time, money, and the many opportunities given to us—have come from the Lord. They have been entrusted to us to be used, not for safekeeping or to be hidden away. These were given to us according to our ability to use—not for our own gain, but for the Lord’s purposes here upon earth. We are like tenant farmers, who, given the use of the land, make their own selection as to the crop they will raise, and they work according to their own skill and desire to work. Some have the ability to sow, cultivate, and raise a bounteous crop, but others are less successful. There are some persons who will work hard and produce, while others, lacking initiative and desire, will fail. The day comes, however, when an accounting must be made” (The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, edited by Clyde J. Williams, 271.).
Fourth,“to every one that has shall be given…but from him that has not shall be taken away” (Matthew 25:29)
Those who are faithful with even a little are entrusted with more! But those who neglect or squander what God has entrusted to them will lose what they have. There is an important lesson here for us. No one can stand still for long in the Christian life. We either get more or we lose what we have. We either advance towards God or we slip back. Do you earnestly seek to serve God with the gifts, talents, and graces he has given to you?
“The Lord expects us to use our talents in his service.Those who use their talents find they will grow. One who exercises his strength finds it will increase. If we sow a seed, it will grow; if we fail to plant, it will be lost. One who possesses some insight and is attentive to his teacher will gain more knowledge and insight and will have growth in mind and spiritual understanding. Understanding increases as it is used. As we learn, we acquire greater capacity to learn. As we use our opportunities for knowledge, more opportunities come to us. How sad it is when the opposite course is followed, and talent and capacity are wasted and not used. ‘From him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath’ (Matthew 25:29).
“ServiceTalentsa-Hunter, Howard W.TPTalents are not given to us to be put on display or to be hidden away, but to be used. The Master expects us to make use of them. He expects us to venture forth and increase what we have been given according to our capacities and abilities (see Matthew 25:26-30). As servants of the Lord, we should use every opportunity to employ our talents in his service. To fail to do so means to lose them. If we do not increase, we decrease. Our quest is to seek out the talents the Lord has given us and to develop and multiply them, whether they be five, two, or one. We need not attempt to imitate the talents given to other persons.” (The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, edited by Clyde J. Williams, 70.)
Fifth, God rewards those who are faithful, responsible and productive stewards and he punishes those irresponsible, unwise and non-productive stewards. God is not going to judge us by the way we use what we do not possess, but by the use we make of the gifts that are actually our own. When he (Christ) comes, the slothful and unprofitable will be cast out, not because they did not believe, or because they had rebelled, but because they had neglected the opportunities which he had committed to them.
In connection with the theme of stewardship, the return of the lord in the parable is symbolic of the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. At that time there will be an accounting, and those that are found wanting will be cast into outer darkness while the saints enter into the peace and joy of the Lord.
“Imagine what the Judgment will be like for us individually. Suppose that when we meet the Master there is a frown, and He turned and shook His head and turned sadly away. Can you imagine anything that would be quite so discouraging or quite so heartbreaking? There will be nothing so terrifying to the human soul as to be told on resurrection morning that they will have to wait a thousand years before they shall come forth from the grave in resurrection. But imagine instead of that, He smiles, He opens his arms, and says, ‘Come into my presence. You have been faithful in a few things, I will make you ruler over many things.’” (The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, edited by Clyde J. Williams, 68.)
All things such as created things, gifts, talents and blessings are God’s, and we must watch over and care for them in honor of Him and in the sanctification of man. Jesus warns us in a parable to be faithful, responsible, and productive stewards , because when he comes again, we will be judged for our stewardship (Lk 12:41-48). Let us, therefore, make good use of the gifts, talents, time, and resources He gives us for his glory and for every one’s sanctification. “Be fruitful!” (Gn 1:28)
The Gospel speaks of the coming of the Son of Man, also known as the end times or the end of the world. The scenes of terrible destruction—among them, the darkening of the sun and the moon and the disappearance of the stars from the heavens—evoke great fear.
The scriptures speak of many signs in the heaven and on the earth, but this particular sign is different. That the sun should be darkened, the moon turned to blood, and the stars fall from the heavens is a sign that is repeated over and over in the scriptures (see Ezek. 32:7, Joel 2:31; 3:15, Matt 24:29; Mark 13:24-25, Lu. 21:25, Acts 2:20, Rev. 6:12; 8:12). How many other signs or doctrines are repeated in 14 different places? Certainly, the fulfillment of this scripture will be as dramatic as anything we have ever seen, for when it occurs, “the earth shall tremble and reel to and fro as a drunken man”
Let me share with you some insights of Mr. Russel Ballard that can be of help for your reflection, guidance and consolation:
Living in these difficult times, brothers and sisters, requires each one of us to maintain a positive, hopeful perspective about the future. Today, more so than in the past, I am asked about the signs of the times and if I think the end of the world is near. My answer is the same one that Jesus gave some two thousand years ago:
But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.
Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is. (Mark 13:32–33.)
…Although the prophecies tell us that these things are to take place, more and more people are expressing great alarm at what appears to be an acceleration of worldwide calamity. As members of the Church, we must not forget the Savior’s admonition, “Be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass.” These are difficult times, when the forces of nature seem to be unleashing a flood of “famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.”
Recently I read a newspaper article that cited statistics from the U.S. Geological Survey indicating that earthquakes around the world are increasing in frequency and intensity. According to the article, only two major earthquakes (earthquakes measuring at least six on the Richter scale) occurred during the 1920s. In the 1930s the number increased to five, and then it decreased to four during the 1940s. But in the 1950s, nine major earthquakes occurred, followed by fifteen during the 1960s, forty-six during the 1970s, and fifty-two during the 1980s. Already almost as many major earthquakes have occurred during the 1990s as during the entire decade of the 1980s.
The world is experiencing violent disorders, both physical, as well as social… Political unrest, warfare, and economic chaos prevail in many parts of the world, and the plagues of pornography, drug misuse, immorality, AIDS, and child abuse become more oppressive with each passing day. The media busily satisfies an apparently insatiable appetite of audiences to witness murder, violence, nudity, sex, and profanity…
Brothers and sisters, whether or not these are indeed the last days or even “the beginning of sorrows” as the Savior foretold, some of us may find our lives laden with frustration, disappointment, and sorrow. Many feel helpless to deal with the chaos that seems to prevail in the world. Others anguish over family members who are being carried downstream in a swift, raging current of weakening values and declining moral standards. Children particularly are suffering as society drifts further and further away from the commandments of God.
Many have even resigned themselves to accept the wickedness and cruelty of the world as being irreparable. They have given up hope. They have decided to quit trying to make the world a better place in which they and their families can live. They have surrendered to despair…
My message to you today, my brothers and sisters, is simply this: the Lord is in control. He knows the end from the beginning. He has given us adequate instruction that, if followed, will see us safely through any crisis. His purposes will be fulfilled, and someday we will understand the eternal reasons for all of these events. Therefore, today we must be careful to not overreact, nor should we be caught up in extreme preparations; but what we must do is keep the commandments of God and never lose hope! (“The Joy of Hope Fulfilled,” Ensign, Nov. 1992, 31-32)
“As it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man.They ate, they drank, they married, they were given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all” (Lk 17:27-28)
These words of our Lord are a prophecy about the last coming of the Son of Man. We should remember that prophecy often involves events on different levels, many symbols, a terminology of its own; it gives us insight into future events, but the concrete details only become clear when the events actually occur. Our Lord’s last coming will be something sudden and unexpected; it will catch many people unprepared. Jesus illustrates this by giving examples from sacred history: as in the time of Noah (cf. Genesis 6:9-19:7) and that of Lot (cf. Genesis 18:16-19:27) divine judgment will be visited on men without warning.
However, it is useful to recall here that everyone will find himself before the divine Judge immediately when he dies, at the Particular Judgment. Thus Jesus’ teaching has also a present urgency about it: here and now a disciple should scrutinize his own conduct, for the Lord can call him when he least expects.
If you knew that an impending disaster, such as a flood or hurricaine, was about to destroy your home and threaten your life, wouldn’t you make preparation to escape and find refuge in a safe place? Jesus warned his followers to avert spirtual disaster and to not be caught off-guard when the “day of judgment” would strike the earth and its inhabitants. The “Day of the Lord” was understood in the Old Testament as the time when God would manifest his power and glory, and overthrow his enemies. Isaiah describes it as a day when God will bring down the proud and the arrogant who flaunt his law (Isaiah 2:11). That day will be darkness, gloom, disaster, and desolation for the earth when “God will punish the world for its evil and the wicked for their iniquity” (Isaiah 13:6-11). The prophet Amos declared that the “Day” meant judgment for the house of Israel as well, and not just the other nations who followed other gods (Amos 5:18-20). The prophet Joel proclaimed that at this “Day” those who truly repented would be saved, while those who remained enemies of God, whether Jew or Gentile, would be punished (see Joel 2).
Jesus compares the separation of the good from the evil on the Day of judgement at the end of the age with the judgment and separation that took place in the days of Noah, when God saw that the inhabitants of the world had been filled with every imaginable evil (Genesis 6:5), with corruption and violence spreading everywhere (Genesis 6:11-13). In Noah’s day, God swept away in the great flood all who chose the way of evil rather than good. God intended to start over again with a people who would choose to do good by obeying him. Noah and his family alone were spared this punishment because they remained faithful to God. They heeded his warning to build an ark to escape the destructive force of the impending flood. [See the book of Genesis, chapters 6-8, for the account of Noah’s ark and the great flood.] Noah’s ark has stood as a beacon of hope to all who would seek refuge in God and follow in his way of justice and holiness.
God promised Abraham, “I will not destroy Sodom if there are ten good people in it. But ten good people could not be found” (Genesis 18:32 ). The Lord rained burning sulfur on the sin cities of Sodom and Gommorah and destroyed them. Abraham saw smoke rising from the land, like smoke from a huge furnace. (see Genesis 19:24-25, 28)
Some biblical scholars believe that an earthquake (common to the area) touched off the fiery holocaust. Words like “burning sulfur” and “smoke “suggest that coal and petroleum deposits (still found in the area) exploded during the earthquake, igniting the infernal described. Regardless of how it happened, the point is clear: Sodom and Gommorah met with a terrible fate that was interpretted as God’s judgment upon the two cities.
What point does the story of Sodom and Gommorah make? “I shall tell you a secret, my friend. Don’t wait for the last judgment; it is taking place every day” (Albert Camus).
Jesus makes clear to his disciples that the Father has given him all authority to execute judgments on the earth “because he is the Son of man” (John 5:27). The “Son of man” is a Messianic title for God’s anointed one who will destroy God’s enemies and establish an everlasting kingdom of righteousness and peace. The “Day of the Lord” points to the final judgment of all the living as well as all the dead who dwelt upon the earth. The “Son of man” is the one who is given supreme authority to judge and execute justice on the earth. Jesus comes the first time to lay down his life as the atoning sacrifice for the sin of the world. He promises to return again at the “end of the age” as King and Judge both of the living and the dead. While we do not know the time of his return, we will not mistake it when it happens. It will be apparent to all, both Christians and non-believers as well.
So be ready. Be prepared. Be watchful.
Watch your THOUGHTS; They become WORDS.
Watch your WORDS; They become ACTIONS.
Watch your ACTIONS; They become HABITS.
Watch your HABITS; They become CHARACTER.
Watch your CHARACTER; It becomes your DESTINY.
– Frank Outlaw
Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, I place all my hope in you because you have redeemed the world by your death on the cross and by your victory over the grave. Help me to never lose sight of the goal of heaven that I may live each day in joyful anticipation of your return in glory.”
Solemnity of Christ the King – Year A
Ez 34:11-12,15-17; 1Cor 15:20-26, 28; Matt 25:31-46
We call Fernando Poe, Jr. as king of Philippine movies or Miss Gloria Romero as queen of the Philippine movies. We have also princes and princesses of Philippine action movies. We call Sharon CuÑeta as megastar or Maricel Soriano as diamond star or Vilma Santos as star of all seasons and Nora as Superstar.
We call too Inday Badiday as queen of intrigues but I don’t know if there is also king of intrigues. Christy Fermin as somebody says that she’s queen of gossip. But I don’t know if there is king of gossip. How about Jesus Christ? We call Him as King of all nations and today we dedicate this last Sunday of liturgical calendar of the church for this title. Next Sunday we will enter into the season of Advent.
The gospel that is being used is one of the most vivid parables Jesus eve spoke and the lesson is crystal clear that God will judge us in accordance with our reaction to human need. His judgment will not depend on the knowledge we have amassed or the fame we have acquired or the fortune we have gained or the success we have achieved but on the help and love that we have given for our neighbor.
This parable teaches us three things about that we must give to the three Ls (the Lost, the Least and the Last) of our society.
First, it must be help in simple things. Giving food to those who are in hungry is simple and very easy. Giving a glass of water to those who are thirsty is very simple and easy too. Everybody can do it. Or giving a bed to those who have none or visiting the sick and the prisoners are very simple and easy which everybody can do everyday. These deeds do not need our names to be written in a replica or to be published in a newspaper or to be flashed in the projector of the church so that others may see and read.
Second, it must be help which is uncalculating. Those who help did not think that they were helping Christ and thus piling up eternal merit. They helped because they could not stop themselves in helping. They help not because they run for public office or so that they may vote for them. They helped because it was natural and instinctive for them to help. Whereas, on the other hand, the attitude of those who failed to help was: “if we have known it was you we would gladly have to help, but we thought it was only common tao (person) who was not worth helping.”
I, myself, I am a victim of this. We back in 1988 when I was in my Spiritual Pastoral Formation Year (SPFY) in Cagayan de Oro City, we have had a one-month hospital exposure where we worked as janitors of the hospital. Some of the doctors and nurses knew that we were seminarians. It happened that I entered the room of a patient belonging to a middle class family in order to clean the room. The patient was sleeping. The mother of the patient got angry with me because I entered the room and I’m disturbing the patient in her sleeping. I reasoned out that it was the time for us to clean the room and I don’t know that she was sleeping but she did not listen. She continued talking and so I went out from the room without cleaning the room too.
Afterwards, she asked one of the janitors about me. The janitor told the lady that I am a seminarian. The following day when I entered the room, the lady was so accommodating and even gave me snack and invited me to have a lunch. She told me: “ I was thinking yesterday that you are just a mere janitor in this hospital that is why I shouted you yesterday and got angry with you. If you have just told me that you are a seminarian, then, I would not do it for you.”
“So, that’s the way you treat ordinary people like janitors?” I told her but she did not answer.
Up to this day, there are those who help because they are given praise, thanks and publicity and in that sense they have already received their rewards. But help like this is not help at all but in order to expand his or her self-esteem. I rather prefer and appreciate those who do not want their names to be published but just considering themselves as anonymous donors because in that sense there is a fulfillment and meaning in life.
Third, all such help given is given to him and such help withheld is withheld from him. Just like St. Francis of Assisi. He was a wealthy man, high-born and high-spirited but he was not happy. He felt that life was incomplete. Then one day he was out riding and met a leper, loathsome and repulsive in the ugliness of his disease. Something moved St. Francis to dismount and fling his arms around this wretched sufferer and in his arms the face of the leper changed into the face of Christ.
May be today we could experience what St. Francis had experienced but there are so many instances that Christ is very much present. What they? You may discover them in others and our conscience will tell us.
Fr. Joseph Benetiz
Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine. It is said that heaven’s gate will be guarded not by Peter but by the poor who will let in only those they recognize who have helped them. There the question will no longer be what we believe in, what we have accomplished, or what we are bringing in. There and then, the question will be simpler: What have you done for these least of my brothers? And it will not be a question only of actions. We may have done charity, we may have donated much, and we may have given our time. But where was our heart? How did we live our life? Was care and concern our language?
It is also said that only two things will be asked at the end of life: First, did you find joy in your life? Second, was your life a joy to others?
Visit an orphanage with your family this Sunday
In Palestine during Jesus’ time, the wedding took place in two stages. The first is betrothal. This was held at the residence of the father of the bride, where the bridegroom presented the marriage contract and bride price to the father and the bride. During this stage the bride remained in her father’s house for almost a year and there is no sexual contact between them until the second part of the wedding when the groom would come for her to bring her home with him. This procession of the wedding party to the house of the groom would signal the beginning of the feasting.
This is the context of the gospel story when the five young, unmarried woman, around twelve years old at the bridegroom’s house, who went out with their lamps to welcome bridegroom and the bride and the whole procession and to lighten their path, were considered wise virgins. While the other five who were not ready were considered foolish virgins. Here the focus is not the bride but the virgins and their lamps.
The Parable of the Ten Virgins warns us against unreadiness and promises blessings to the watchful, vigilant and ready. While this short parable does not specifically mention Christ’s return, that is its focus. Those who are ready will be greatly rewarded, and those who are not ready will suffer a great loss of eternal life.
No one knows neither the day nor the hour (see Mt 25:13) when Jesus will return at the end of time as King and Judge both of the living and the dead. And that will be final, definite and absolute. There will be no “last two minutes” as in Basketball. There will be no further time for preparation. There will be no more last chances. Because of this, there are those who will be ready, and those who will not be. The time for preparation is now. Now is the time to procure “oil of good deed.” For Matthew, light is equated with good deeds that are visible to others and that lead to the praise of the heavenly Father (Mt 7:16). “Let your light shine before men so that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven (Mt. 5:16). “God will not forget your work and the love you have shown him by your service to his holy people. Our desire is that each of you show the same zeal till the end, fully assured of that for which you hope” (Hebrews 6:10).
I, therefore, exhort you with this words of St. John of God: “Labour without stopping; do all the good works you can while you still have the time.”