Be Awake: Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

The foolish, sleepy-headed virgins from James Tissot’s “Wise and Foolish Virgins.”

Central idea: Be awake and prepared to meet Christ. Doctrine: Christ will make all things subject to him. Practical application: Prudence.

To view Lectionary 154, click here.

Central idea: Be awake and prepared to meet Christ

Reading 1 Wis 6:12-16

Resplendent 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 shall not be disappointed,
for he shall find her sitting by his gate.
For taking thought of wisdom is the perfection of prudence,
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.

  • Christ’s parable of the wise and foolish virgins should remind us that each one of us—no matter how young or old we are—can live wise or foolish lives.
  • The good news of the Book of Wisdom is that we can be wise as soon as we want to be. God’s wisdom is ready and waiting to meet us as soon as we call to her.
  • We become “worthy of wisdom” when we want her. This means wanting to live by what she reveals to us, that is, God’s will.
  • “[T]aking thought of wisdom is the perfection of prudence.” This means that our decision-making is most sound (prudence) when we consider what is the best course of action in God’s eyes (wisdom).
  • Not many of us actively set out to do evil, but many of us sleepwalk through life. This is why we should be awake at dawn.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 63:2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8

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 and my soul thirsts
like the earth, parched, lifeless and without water.

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.

Thus will I bless 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.

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.

  • “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Mt 5:6). We are fortunate when we desire God, for then we desire the only thing that can satisfy every desire.
  • This is why we need to take “thought of wisdom” day and night, calling upon God who alone can satisfy every desire for happiness.

Reading 2 1 Thes 4:13-18

We do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters,
about those who have fallen asleep,
so that you may not grieve like the rest, who have no hope.
For if we believe 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.
Then we who are alive, who are left,
will be caught up together with them in the clouds
to meet the Lord in the air.
Thus we shall always be with the Lord.
Therefore, console one another with these words.

  • When Christ the bridegroom returns to bring us to the wedding banquet of heaven, there will be wise virgins who are awake in life and wise virgins whose bodies are asleep in death.
  • All of these will meet Christ.
  • This is a consoling thought, so long as we are one of these wise ones.

Alleluia MT 24:42A, 44

Stay awake and be ready!
For you do not know on what day your Lord will come.

  • In the Collect we prayed to be “unhindered in mind and body alike” so we can “pursue in freedom of heart the things that are” God’s.
  • So let us ask God for the grace to be unhindered from anything that holds our minds or bodies back from doing his will.

Gospel Mt 25:1-13

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 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.”

  • Christ is the bridegroom. We are the virgins awaiting his return to begin the wedding feast of heaven.
  • Christ admonishes us to be prepared and awake.
  • Christ will “return” and judge each and every one of us at the moment of our death in what the Church calls our particular judgment. We do not know when that moment will be. This raises two vital considerations.
    • First, do I have the oil of being in the state of grace or am I in the empty a state of mortal sin? Just as the foolish virgins had time to get more oil for their lamps up until the arrival of the bridegroom, but not after, so we have time to repent and to go to Confession up until the moment of our death, but not after.
    • Second, assuming I am in a state of grace, is my life bearing the fruit that Christ wants to see? Is my way of life foolish? I still have time to amend my life and live it according to God’s will.

Doctrine: Christ will make all things subject to him

  • Christ has not yet but will make everything subject to him. This will happen when he returns to earth “with power and great glory” (CCC 671).
  • Then “there [will] be realized new heavens and a new earth in which justice dwells” (CCC 671). This is “the glorious . . . messianic kingdom awaited by Israel which, according to the prophets, was to bring all men the definitive order of justice, love and peace (CCC 672).
  • So, we exist in the era of “waiting and watching” (CCC 672). It is an era of distress and the allowance of evil (CCC 672). So the reign of Christ “is still under attack by the evil powers” (CCC 671) and all creatures, including the members of the Church militant, “groan and travail yet and await the revelation of the sons of God” (CCC 671).
  • “That is why Christians pray, above all in the Eucharist, to hasten Christ’s return, by saying to him: Marana tha! ‘Our Lord, come!’” (CCC 671).

Practical application: Prudence

  • As the Book of Wisdom reminds us, “taking thought of wisdom is the perfection of prudence.”
  • As a human virtue, prudence is that most important and desirable cardinal virtue which helps us see and sets us in motion toward pursuing the good. Whenever we face a decision or conceive of a course of action, prudence takes council, makes a decision, and then acts.
  • As a supernatural virtue, prudence is assisted by God’s grace, directed at pleasing God, and takes council with God’s wisdom.
  • It is exciting to look at your life, choose a better course of action, and then pursue it.
  • It is sanctifying to look at your life from God’s perspective, choose an action that he wants, and then set out to accomplish it with Christ at your side.
    • This is a way to wake up and be a wise virgin.

The Homiletic Directory recommends the following Catechism points and themes for the Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time:

  • CCC 671-672: we wait for all to be made subject to Christ
  • CCC 988-991: the just will live forever with the risen Christ
  • CCC 1036, 2612: vigilant waiting for the Lord’s return
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