Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Preparing for the hour of visitation

Next Sunday’s gospel:

"Then 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 the bridegroom was long delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. 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.' 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.' While they went off to buy it, the bridegroom came and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him. Then the door was locked. Afterwards the other virgins came and said, 'Lord, Lord, open the door for us!' 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.

An understanding of the scriptures is influenced by our culture, the obvious example being the nature of a wedding, quite different here than what we see today! There is one other cultural perspective which we should be aware of. Jesus was speaking to the Jews of his time, people who were waiting for a messiah to deliver them. The use of ten and five in the parable would have been very significant to Jesus’ listeners; they would have immediately connected this to the ten commandments and the five books of the law, and the awaited bridegroom is none other than the awaited messiah. As a reading of the old testament will show, many under the old covenant did not prepare for his coming, while there were those who did.

From a Christian perspective this scripture can appear harsh and unforgiving. This is the mystery of free will refusing the offer of God himself. Judas certainly is the supreme example, for God wishes the conversion of sinners and wills no one to be lost. The destruction of Jerusalem shows that to fail to accept Jesus in the Hour of his visitation is not a good thing…

Lk 19:41ff As he drew near, he saw the city and wept over it, saying, "If this day you only knew what makes for peace--but now it is hidden from your eyes. For the days are coming upon you when your enemies will raise a palisade against you; they will encircle you and hem you in on all sides. They will smash you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave one stone upon another within you because you did not recognize the time of your visitation."

No comments:

Post a Comment