1 Corinthians 1:17-25
USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew.
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.”
Good News Reflection: Who’s the fool?
Christianity is absurd! It’s the opposite of everything that makes sense. St. Paul says in today’s first reading that the message of the cross is “foolishness” (in some translations, “complete absurdity”) and a “stumbling block.” How often have you looked foolish for doing what God asks you to do? How often have you hesitated because you felt foolish?
The Bible is full of foolish nonsense. Peter was foolish enough to tell Jesus that he’d like to walk on water, and he sank only when he tried to understand what was happening.
And how do you think the Virgin Mary felt when the angel told her she’d become pregnant with the Messiah without ever “knowing” a man? She knew enough about biology to wonder, “How can this be?” But unlike Peter, she did not sink away from the absurdities of God.
And oh my, what about the cross? How in the world could the destruction of one man’s life and ministry bring about such good results? How could carrying our own crosses be good? How in the world, indeed! The wisdom of this world is, in reality, just folly.
What’s the most absurd thing going on in your life right now? What is God doing that makes no sense at all? Ahhh, the fun of living in absurdity. What an adventure!
Remember what Jesus tells us in today’s Gospel reading: The truly foolish folks are those who don’t expect God to do the unexpected. The foolish bridesmaids thought the groom would arrive before they ran out of oil in their lamps. They thought they understood the situation, and when they discovered that the groom was going to be absurdly late, they scratched their heads in confusion and scrambled to find more oil.
Notice that they ran off to the store after the groom’s arrival was announced. Talk about idiocy!
The absurdity of what Christ leads us into is the opposite of such idiocy. To follow Christ in everything — including walking on water in situations where we think we’ll sink — requires us to distrust our logic. We cannot trust our perception or our understanding of the situations we face or the work that God calls us to do. Those of us who want to have a good grasp of God’s thought processes had better quit now, before the brain hits foolishness overload and crashes like a computer that has too many programs running at the same time.
The sooner we accept the absurdity of being a Christian, the sooner we will discover that living the risky adventures of holiness is much, much better than a safe life of sound logic and easy decisions.
So, get ready for anything! Fill your lamp with plenty of oil right now, while it’s still illogical.
My Lord: It is difficult for me to be humble for the sake of my neighbors beyond my own interests, but I know that with Your grace and my daily effort I’ll be the instrument of love that You want me to be. Amen.
© 2018 by Terry A. Modica