For the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Cycle A) – November 12, 2017

“Take care of your body as if you were going to live forever;
and take care of your soul as if you were going to die tomorrow.”  (St. Augustine)

This Sunday’s Theme: Wisdom and Death.

These final three Sundays left in Ordinary Time – Cycle A, focus our spiritual attention on the End Times (theologically known as the Parousia), or in practical terms, on our own mortality and judgment by God.
Wise people make God the center of their lives and are prepared for God’s unexpected coming. In Reading 1 personified Wisdom comes to those who are morally attuned and prepared to receive her. The Gospel speaks about the importance of readiness for God’s visitation. In Reading 2, Paul speaks about the fate of those who die before the Lord’s return.

Reading 1 – Wisdom 6:12-16     Wisdom will come to those who seek it.
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 63:2-8     Our souls are thirsting for God.
Reading 2 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18     God will raise all those who have died.
Gospel –  Matthew 25:1-13     Jesus tells the parable of the wise and foolish virgins, teaching His disciples     the importance of being prepared to receive the Kingdom of Heaven.

Reading 1     Wisdom 6:12-16                       (Love of Wisdom)

Context – The Wisdom of Solomon (aka. Wisdom) is one of seven Wisdom Books of the Bible (including: Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Song of Songs (Song of Solomon), Ecclesiastes, and Sirach).  It was written a century or two before Christ. It’s main lesson is God rewarding those who are faithful to His law. “Wisdom” here means not merely the practical ability to succeed well in life, or even the art of behaving ethically, but spiritual vision, understanding of God and His activity in our lives and history. To strengthen the faith of his co-religionists, to console them in their afflictions, to raise their hearts above the sordidness and immorality by which they were surrounded – this was the main purpose of the writer of the Book of Wisdom. But he also had another purpose in view. Many Jews, anxious to gain the good will of the Egyptians, had faltered in their allegiance to Yahweh and gone over to the camp of the enemy. To these unfortunates the sacred writer addresses himself time and again, warning them of the impending judgment of God and conjuring them to return to the path of true Wisdom which alone leads to perfect happiness. The Christian finds in it the highest religious and moral lessons – lessons which are of paramount importance today, just as they were over two thousand years ago.
Today’s Reading – “Wisdom” here means not merely the practical ability to succeed well in life, or even the art of behaving ethically, but spiritual vision, understanding of God and His activity in our lives and history. In this reading, Wisdom is personified as a woman who is ready to help all who seek her. Wisdom is to be obtained by prayer, and by leading a good life.

Resplendent (magnificent/outstanding) and unfading is wisdom, and she is readily perceived by those who love her, and found by those who seek her. She hastens to make herself known in anticipation of their desire; Whoever watches for her at dawn (Refers to the manna in the morning that God gave to the Jews in the desert for their sustenance.) shall not be disappointed, for he shall find her sitting by his gate. For taking thought of wisdom is the perfection of prudence (good sense/forethought), and whoever for her sake keeps vigil shall quickly be free from care; because she makes her own rounds, seeking those worthy of her, and graciously appears to them in the ways, and meets them with all solicitude (attentiveness/concern).

PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.

Responsorial Psalm.     Psalm 63:2-8                       (Seeking the Lord)

Today’s Psalm – This psalm is a beautiful song of one seeking a relationship with Divine Wisdom. Having this relationship is “greater than life” which reminds us that life without God and His love is no life at all.

R. – My soul is thirsting for You, O Lord my God.
O God, You are my God whom I seek; for You my flesh pines
(have a desire for something or someone who is not present) and my soul thirsts like the earth, parched, lifeless and without water.
R. – My soul is thirsting for You, O Lord my God.
Thus have I gazed toward You in the sanctuary to see Your power and Your glory, For Your kindness is a greater good than life; my lips shall glorify You.
R. – My soul is thirsting for You, O Lord my God.
Thus will I bless
(worship/praise/honor/reverence) You while I live; lifting up my hands, I will call upon Your name. As with the riches of a banquet shall my soul be satisfied, and with exultant lips my mouth shall praise You.
R. – My soul is thirsting for You, O Lord my God.
I will remember You upon my couch, and through the night-watches I will meditate on You: You are my help, and in the shadow of Your wings I shout for joy.
R. – My soul is thirsting for You, O Lord my God.

PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you. 

Reading 2.     1 Thessalonians 4:13-18                       (Rising from the Dead)      

Context – The church at Thessalonica was a very young church. Paul’s two letters focus upon confirming young converts in the elementary truth of the gospel, conditioning them to go on unto holy living, and comforting them regarding the return of Christ.
Today’s Reading – Expectations of the return of Christ, His Second Coming, are ripe in this Christian community.  Many believe that Jesus will return in their lifetime. Disappointment sets in when it does not happen. Anxiety sets in when loved ones start to die. What will become of them?  Paul seeks to address these concerns in these verses. As Catholics, we would say that we do not know the when, how or where of Christ’s Second Coming. We just believe that Christ will return and all the faithful who have ever lived and believed will enjoy His presence for all eternity.

We do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, about those who have fallen asleep (those who have died), so that you may not grieve like the rest, who have no hope. For if we believe (The certitude of faith is in the resurrection and a life of glory with Christ.) that Jesus died and rose, so too will God, through Jesus, bring with Him those who have fallen asleep. Indeed, we tell you this, on the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will surely not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself, with a word of command, with the voice of an Archangel and with the trumpet of God, will come down from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. (Their soul will reenter their now glorified body.)  Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up (The Latin for “caught up” is rapturo from which the term “Rapture” comes.) together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. (Those who lived until this event will also have a glorified body.)  Thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore, console one another with these words.

PAUSE  and reflect on how the above speaks to you.          Catechism 366 – The Church teaches that every spiritual soul is created immediately by God – it is not “produced” by the parents – and also that it is immortal: it does not perish when it separates from the body at death, and it will be reunited with the body at the final Resurrection. So at the moment of death, the soul separates from the body, is judged immediately, and enters either heaven (immediately or through purgatory) or hell. Catechism 1022 – Each person receives their eternal retribution in their immortal soul at the very moment of their death, in a particular judgment that refers their life to Christ: either entrance into the blessedness of heaven-through a purification or immediately, — or immediate and everlasting damnation. – At the evening of life, we shall be judged on our love.
Difference between our earthly body and our after-life body:  
1. The Lord Jesus Christ…will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body. (Philippians 3:20–21 – “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we also await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will change our lowly body to conform with His glorified body by the power that enables Him also to bring all things into subjection to Himself.”). We believe that Christ’s resurrected body, before His ascension, was quite normal in appearance. But what is Christ’s “glorious body” like? We are given a picture on the Mount of Transfiguration: (Matthew 17:2 – “And He was transfigured before them; His face shone like the sun and His clothes became white as light.”). The Transfiguration appears to have given us a preview of Christ’s glorified body.
2. If our soul is judged for eternal life, we can assume then, that our earthly body will be transfigured like Jesus’ body was. Will a baby that died on earth be a baby in heaven? Will an elderly person be elderly in heaven? Will … ? Answer – What we shall be has not yet been revealed. – 1 John 3:2 – “Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”
3. If our soul is judged for everlasting damnation, what will our earthly body be transformed to in hell?


Gospel     Matthew 25:1-13                            (The Need for Watchfulness)

Context – Matthew’s Gospel, written prior to 70 AD, is the first book of the New Testament, not because it was written first – some of Paul’s epistles take that honor – but because it is a bridge between the Old and New Testaments. His purpose was to  prove to his fellow Jews that Jesus is the One to whom all the Jewish prophets point: the Messiah, the Christ, the King of the Jews. To accomplish his mission He uses more Old Testament quotations and references than any other Gospel.
Today’s Reading – Since no one knows the day or hour of Jesus’ return, all would be wise to sustain an attitude of continuous preparedness by daily hearing and keeping of His Word.

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 it is not known when the parousia (End Times) will happen, one must always be ready to go and meet the Lord.)  Since the bridegroom was long delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. ( Absolute vigilance is not so much the point as readiness.) 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.’ (The oil represents the good works of living out the gospel; the foolish virgins have just been coasting along.) 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.’ (Refusal by the wise doesn’t constitute a lack of charity or helpfulness – good works are not completely transferrable. Others can help, but readiness to accept salvation is, ultimately, a matter of personal responsibility.) While they went off to buy it, the bridegroom came and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him. (Those who are prepared to accept salvation are admitted to the wedding feast of the Lamb – the heavenly banquet.) Then the door was locked. Afterwards the other virgins came and said, ‘Lord, Lord, open the door for us!’ (Those who are not prepared cannot expect to be admitted.) 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.”

PAUSE  and reflect on how the above speaks to you.

Catechism 672 – Before His Ascension, Christ affirmed that the hour had not yet come for the glorious establishment of the messianic kingdom awaited by Israel which, according to the prophets, was to bring all persons the definitive order of justice, love and peace. According to the Lord, the present time is the time of the Spirit and of witness, but also a time still marked by “distress” and the trial of evil which does not spare the Church and ushers in the struggles of the last days. It is a time of waiting and watching.