Homily September 1st, 2023

Friday of the 21st Week of Ordinary Time – Mt 25:1-13

In today’s Gospel we just heard the parable of the ten virgins: five foolish, and five wise. Many Fathers of the Church see in the lamps carried by the virgins the good deeds and works of mercy that Christians, and especially religious, are called to perform. Saint Augustine writes that “the lamps which they carry in their hands are their works, of which it was said above, ‘Let your works shine before men,’” and Saint Jerome explains that “the virgins who have oil are they who, in addition to their faith, have the ornament of good works; they who have not oil, are the ones who seem to confess with like faith, but neglect the works of virtue.” When Christ comes, the virgins “trim their lamps,” that is, they prepare to give an account of their deeds, says Augustine. The lamps of the foolish virgins go out, notes Gregory the Great, because, even though their deeds seemed praiseworthy, they were missing the interior oil of charity.

So, what are we to make of all this? As Christians and as religious, our lives are dedicated to the perfection of charity, to doing good works out of love for Christ. The foolish virgins were caught off guard, because they didn’t expect the bridegroom to show up when He did. On one hand, then, we’re reminded that we need to be ready for the definitive coming of the Bridegroom, to live each day in light of that most certain visit of Christ that often comes as a surprise. Yet, on the other hand, we’re reminded that the way to be prepare for that visit is to live each day in the fullness of charity. We could say that Christ visits us every day: He comes in the form of our superiors and what they ask, our fellow religious and their needs and requests, our families, the people we meet, everything. In all of these people, Christ the Bridegroom comes to us in disguise. If we try to see Christ in everyone, in every event, and in every moment, the definitive arrival won’t catch us off guard; rather, it will be the moment when the Bridegroom, whom we have seen only as in a mirror, fully reveals Himself, illuminated by the light of our good works.

We can ask ourselves: how well do we see Christ in the many things that come our way each day? How well do we try to live our charity with our communities, with those we meet, in every action that we perform? Let us pray, through the intercession of Mary, Help of Christians, for the grace to see Christ in everyone and everything, and hence prepare ourselves for His definitive coming.

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