Sunday November 8

Gospel of Matthew 25:1:13

Stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

Jesus told his disciples this parable: “The kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones, when taking their lamps, brought no oil with them, but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps. Since the bridegroom was long delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight, there was a cry, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise ones replied, ‘No, for there may not be enough for us and you. Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’ While they went off to buy it, the bridegroom came and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him. Then the door was locked. Afterwards the other virgins came and said, ‘Lord, Lord, open the door for us!’ But he said in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

As a follower of Christ, I am called to wait in hope and holy expectation. I am asked to remember that I am part of a greater picture, a larger tapestry. When I do this I often find myself saying the only thing I know about God is that God is more than I can imagine. I only have to slow down enough to contemplate the light of a star at night and marvel at the vastness of creation in order to get in touch with this awe and wonder that is God, and know that we are all interconnected.

In today’s Gospel, I am called to be vigilant and to live in hope and anticipation of the magis (the more and awe of God). Sometimes this might involve waiting in the darkness for a while. It can feel like I am waiting on God or a long dark night. I might get complacent and distracted, but time after time, I learn that God’s timing is always perfect and this is revealed when occasionally I catch a glimpse of the larger picture. 

Mary Ward talked with her companions about her prayer experience that she named ‘the long loneliness’. She had a deep and prophetic awareness that this experience was going to prepare her for struggles in life. It enabled her (and her companions) to be vigilant and keep the light burning during the dark times and to trust in God.

We hear her refer to this ‘loneliness’ in a letter she wrote to her close companion Winifrid Wigmore October 27 1624.[1]

So I think dear child the trouble and long lonliness you heard me speak of is not far from, which whensoever it is happy success will follow; you are the first I have uttered this conceit so plainly too, pray for me and the work. It grieves me I cannot have you also with me to help to bear a part, but a part you will, and shall bear howsoever…

Like Mary Ward and the bridesmaids in this Gospel, we are invited to be prepared to wait, even in times of darkness because the reality is we are participants of the larger mystery of creation. 

[1] Mary Ward and Winefrid Wigmore Rome, 1624 October 27,  in Ursula Dirmeier, Mary Ward und ihre Gründung ,80, 81.