32nd SUNDAY OF THE YEAR
Picture by Eimear McGuinness
‘Stay awake’ by Fr. Peter Burke
Every year thousands of motorists seek roadside assistance because they have run out of fuel and this despite the fact that all modern cars have warning lights and messages to alert us to any malfunction. In truth, there is no excuse for running out of fuel. It is a question of remaining vigilant and attentive. The five wise virgins in today’s parable fall into this category. They are watchful and prepared for the arrival of the bridegroom. The five foolish virgins are not, and they are excluded from the wedding celebrations. The message is clear. The disciple must stay awake. The disciple must remain watchful. The disciple must keep the lamp lit. It is easy to keep the lamp lit when the road is smooth and the sea is calm. The trial comes when the storm rages and the bridegroom is absent, but the disciple must stay awake. What does this mean in practice then? English author Richard Evans provides a striking answer to this question when he writes about the danger of putting things off: ‘There are mothers who plan to enjoy their daughters more, but they keep putting it off. There are fathers who plan to get to know their sons better, but they keep putting it off. There are husbands and wives who plan to spend more time together, to strengthen their marriage bond, but they keep putting it off. When in the world are we going to live as if we understood that this is life? This is our time, our day and it is passing.’ Unlike the foolish virgins, we should use our time well, because it is the anvil on which eternity is forged. ‘We should live our lives as though Christ was coming this afternoon’. (Jimmy Carter).