06 November 2011


32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Mt 25:1-13

These last few days, we commemorated the departed in a special way.  We prayed for all of them – known and unknown to us.  We offered Masses for them – all who have gone ahead of us to the bosom of the Father.  But in an even more special way, we remembered our very own dearly departed – our family members, relatives, friends, and acquaintances who already crossed from this side of life to the other.  We visited their graves, brought them flowers, lit a candle or two for them, and prayed for them.  The desire to be closest as possible to the sorely missed urged many to trek the roads that led to their remains consigned to the earth.  And so, at the grave of our dearly departed we arrived.  And being close to their remains, we found our selves not only closest to the dead but closer, too, to the living.  The living gathered around the dead.  The meeting with the dead became the rendezvous of the living.
Remembering our dearly departed became an occasion for many of us for a petite family reunion.  We did not only pray for our beloved demised.  We did not only think about the days we shared with them, the ups and downs of life, the joys and sorrows of earthly existence, the dreams we weaved together with them, the many common experience we had with them while they were still physically present.  Rather, we, the living exchanged stories about the dead.  While we tried to make our remembering solemn, it was not always quiet.  We spoke about our memories of our dearly departed.  We did not only talk to them in our silent thoughts and prayers.  We also talked about them with those gathered with us around their remains.
But curiosity, if not piety, sometimes moves me to stroll around the cemetery, passing through several graves other than those of my loved ones.  These past few days, I went to the cemetery thrice: twice to my dad’s and once to my grandparents.  While there, I went around and visited their “neighbors”.  I noticed that quite a number of those buried were born in the same year I was born: 1967.  They were my batch mates in entering the world, but not in leaving it.  I lingered at one grave whose occupant was just a few months younger than me.  And as I stood pensive by his remains, I seemed to hear a voice within saying, “He could be you, you know.  The remains that lie here could be yours.  You could be dead your self.  But you are not.  Not yet.  Someday.”  This voice within did not send chills down my spine.  Rather, it caused me to reflect even deeper about something many of us, consciously or unconsciously, refuse to give a considerable thought: death, our own individual dying.
Benjamin Franklin once said, “In life, there are only two things we are certain of: taxes and death.”  Very true!  We do not know when, we do not know how, and we do not know where, but you and I will all die someday.  Our Christian faith tells us though that death is not the end of everything.  It is but a passage from this life to eternity.  But where we will spend that eternity depends on the kind of life we live today.  When that someday arrives, we all hope that we are ready.  Otherwise, we are no better than the five foolish virgins in the Gospel today.
We already know for certain that when we die, we shall give an accounting of our life to the Lord.  To continue living on earth without any serious thought about that day is therefore foolishness.  Only a fool will spend his days here like he will be here forever.  Only a fool will not use every means he has to prepare himself for that great wedding banquet in heaven.  How foolish is he who takes eternity lightly!  More foolish is he who doubts it.
The five virgins in the parable today were not bad or immoral or sinful individuals so that they were not allowed entrance into the wedding banquet.  The Gospel does not say anything about their moral state.  What the parable says is that those five virgins were foolish.  They missed the chance of entering into the wedding banquet for the simple reason that they were not prepared.
May we never be foolish.  May we always be prepared.  Let our lamps burn brightly to welcome the Lord anytime and anywhere.  May we never run out of oil for our lamps.  Our oil will be prayer and love.  Prayer keeps us vigilant and love makes us welcome Jesus not only in death but in the person of everyone we meet.
Not all can remain virgins, but some people can remain foolish for the rest of their lives.  When it is time for others to visit our graves, they will not know if we are foolish.  But we will know for sure.


At 8:30 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

many thanks, fr. bob.


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