KEEP YOUR LAMP TRIMMED AND BURNING (Matthew 25: 1-13)

Today’s gospel is all about being ready for the master’s return.  Will Jesus return in all his glory before the end of our lives?  We don’t know the day or the hour but we do know that our lives will end and that it’s important to be prepared for this event – to keep our lamps trimmed and burning.  I once saw a bumper sticker that said “look busy Jesus is coming.” Is this how we prepare?  I think it goes deeper than endless toil in good works, as important as they are.

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The foolish virgins found that they didn’t have enough oil to keep their lamps burning.  If we focus solely on doing good works all the time we may exhaust ourselves – run out of oil – before the master comes.  We need to somehow replenish the supply so that we can keep on giving.  I meditate on sacred scripture almost every day.  The insights I gain are always enriching for my soul.  They often fill me with hope, peace and joy.  This is truly food for the journey.  The sacraments, especially the Eucharist, are also essential soul food.  We will not know, until everything is revealed, the extent of the healing, grace and miracles that the regular reception of the body and blood has worked in our lives. Regular exercise and a healthy diet are an important foundation for spiritual growth.  It is hard for my soul to live when my body is falling apart.  Taking care of our self helps us to take care of others. Maintaining healthy relationships, especially with my wife and family, is a priority.  No one survives this journey alone. Community-communion-with one another is indispensible. I also think some form of regular re-creation/relaxation is necessary.  These are elements which can help us continue to live generously and joyfully in the midst of so much fear, anxiety and hopelessness. Each one of us needs to find ways to recharge and revive our souls daily and allow God’s grace and mercy to flow in if we are going to keep it flowing out to others. This is the oil which keeps our lamps shining brightly until the master comes.

Jesus will also come to us on a daily basis in unexpected ways.  If we are focused only on judgement at the end of our lives, or his second coming, we may miss these small ordinary encounters.  Are we thankful when we get an unexpected visit from a family member or friend whom we haven’t seen for a while? Do we experience awe and wonder for the beauty of the created all around us?  Do we feel genuine gratitude for the basic gifts of food, clothing and shelter? Are we able to respond with confidence and love when we encounter a neighbor or a stranger in need? Mother Theresa said that, in the poor, she encountered Jesus in a “distressing disguise.” These encounters will seem burdensome and even annoying if we haven’t first opened our hearts to the abundant joy, peace and freedom of the risen Christ. If, however, we are able to recognize grace in the daily rhythms of our life we will be prepared for the apocalypse when our heart stops beating or when Jesus comes again in all his glory and we will go out to meet the master with our lamps trimmed and burning.

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