Foolish and Wise Bridesmaids

Editor’s Note: Reflection on the Mass readings for the 32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year A) Wisdom 6:12-16; Psalms 63:2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8; First Thessalonians 4:13-17 or 4; Matthew 25:1-13 This series appears each Wednesday.

Photography © by Andy Coan

“The religion thing can wait. After all, I believe in God and am basically a good person. I really did intend to go to church this morning, but last night’s dancing took a lot more out of me than I thought and I had one drink too many. I’ll catch it next week.  I’ll pray later.”

Foolishness is a matter of priorities. The foolish person majors in the minors, investing money and time in things that really don’t pay very well. Wisdom is a matter of putting first things first, not last. Prudence, which is the practical side of wisdom, is about making a plan to pursue and attain the things that matter most (Wis 6:12-16), the things that really last.

“God is love. If I come up short, he’ll cover my tab. I’m too busy to get ready now.”

Not sweating it when it comes to being prepared for our final exam is not necessarily faith. If we neglect to do make the required preparations, it is not a result of faith but rather of the sin of presumption. When we trust Him to forgive us our bungled attempts to obey Him, God is pleased. When we blow off preparation because we expect Him to dismiss our ticket, God is not amused.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Forgetting about the Lord is the epitome of stupidity. So is forgetting that we are not the Lord, that we are not immortal, that though God is timeless, we are not. Our nations, companies, and even our bodies, are quite mortal indeed. They will not last forever but will either come to a sudden end, or die a slow death of gradual disintegration. It’s hard to believe, but time will some day run out – for America, for me, even for Starbucks.

Jesus said many times that though this world and its affairs seem so real, so urgent, society will one day vanish and all its pressing business will be consigned to oblivion. He will return to claim his bride. We’ll either be caught with oil in our lamp – prepared and eager – or it will be like the rude surprise of guests who come early for dinner when the house is still a mess. Only this guest will be coming not to eat, but to inspect and to judge.

We’ve all had the bad dream of being back in school again and finding out that we are momentarily due to take an important exam for which we are totally unprepared. Well, maybe this dream, like the parable of the foolish bridesmaids, is meant to be a warning to us. For though we may not be the generation to witness the end of the world (1 Thes 5:13-18), each one of us will experience the end of our own private world. He will come, perhaps suddenly, for each of us, at a time of His choosing, not ours.

Many have speculated about when he will come in glory. They’ve pored over the book of Revelation and other passages of Scripture such as Paul’s description of being caught up in the air (I Thes 4). Will there be a secret rapture before he comes? Will it happen before the great tribulation, or after? Is what happening currently in the Middle East foretold in the Bible and therefore a sign that the end is near?

Preoccupation with such things is simply a pious form of snoozing on the job. The end is, in fact near. Our role is not to calculate the day, but rather prepare for the day. If we live always ready, with extra oil for our lamps, never so absorbed that we are not at least watching out for Him with our peripheral vision, we’ll never be caught off guard. We can still enjoy this life while using it as a springboard into the next.


Acknowledgement

Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio writes from Texas. For his resources or info on his pilgrimages to Rome and the Holy Land, visit www.crossroadsinitiative.com or call 1.800.803.0118.

This article originally appeared in Our Sunday Visitor as a reflection on the Mass readings 32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year A). It is reproduced here by permission of the author.

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About the Author

Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio writes from Texas. For his resources on parenting and family life or information on his pilgrimages to Rome and the Holy Land, visit www.crossroadsinitiative.com or call 1.800.803.0118.

Raised in Italian/Irish neighborhood in Providence, RI, Marcellino D’Ambrosio never thought about being anything else but Catholic. But like other Catholic teens, his faith was the last place he looked for fulfillment. Following in the footsteps of his parents, both professional performers in their single years, Marcellino set his sights on stardom, playing bass guitar in several popular rock bands by the time he was 16. At that time he encountered a group of Catholics whose Christian life was an exciting adventure, an adventure worth living for. So he laid his bass guitar aside and embarked on a road that led to a Ph.D. in historical theology from the Catholic University of America. His doctoral dissertation, written under the direction of the renowned Jesuit theologian, Avery Cardinal Dulles, focused on one of the theological lights of the Second Vatican Council, Henri Cardinal de Lubac, and his recovery of biblical interpretation of the early Church fathers.

His writing has been published in the international journal Communio, Abingdon’s Dictionary of Biblical Interpretation, the Tablet, Catholic Digest, Our Sunday Visitor, and Catholic News Service’s syndicated column "Faith Alive." His popular book, Exploring the Catholic Church and video course by the same name (known as Touching Jesus through the Church in the USA) have been used in hundreds of parishes all throughout the English speaking world. The Guide to the Passion: 100 Questions about the Passion of the Christ, of which he is co-author and co-editor, may prove to be the fastest-selling Catholic book of all time with over a million copies sold in less than three months.

Dr. D’Ambrosio, the father of five and a business owner, brings to his teaching a practical, down-to-earth perspective that makes his words easy to understand and put into practice. Audio and video recordings of his popular teaching are internationally distributed. He often appears on the international Eternal Word Television Network is regularly heard on the nationally syndicated radio show "Catholic Answers Live." Dr. D'Ambrosio has been a guest on Geraldo Rivera, At Large on FoxNews Channel, the Bill O'Reilly radio show and Radio America's news program Dateline: Washington.

In 2001 Dr. D’Ambrosio left his position at the University of Dallas to develop the work of Crossroads Productions, the apostolate of Catholic renewal and evangelization that he co-founded twenty years ago, and to more directly oversee the growth of Wellness Opportunities Group a company dedicated to helping people improve the quality of their lives physically, mentally, and financially. He, his wife Susan, and their five children, reside just outside of San Antonio, TX.

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