Tending Our Circle of Light

11-12-2017Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

The Sacrament of Confirmation:

This weekend we welcome Bishop Robert Reed, West Regional Bishop of our Archdiocese. He will be offering the Holy Eucharist and Offering the Sacrament of Confirmation to almost 230 of our young people. May they be infused with the Holy Spirit so that they will live each day in the Lights and the Ways of the Lord Jesus. Holy Spirit, come upon them. Amen!

Pastoral Reflections:

In the scripture this weekend our first passage comes from the Book of Wisdom, the "newest" Old Testament book. We know it was composed and written outside Israel proper in Alexandria, Egypt in the period between 50 and 30 B.C. We know he is a Jewish scholar and philosopher who is speaking from the point of his minority faith in the midst of a powerful majority Greek culture. Our writer creatively develops Wisdom as a personified attribute of God. He informs us that the Wisdom that is the focus of concern for the seeker is readily available. The one who loves, seeks, watches for Wisdom, will find wisdom ready at hand. Wisdom/God is not elusive, tricky or sneaky. Wisdom, indeed, wants to be found; Wisdom is available to one and all who seeks. Wisdom as a female form graciously appears; she all but goes out to meet the one who seeks.

This seeking and vigil keeping, and also attentiveness are also present in today's Gospel. This Gospel was written between 80 and 90 (this is quite a lengthy time after Jesus' resurrection and ascension). The serious question of the end-times or the day of the Lord's coming was constantly in discussion among the early Church followers. We must remember that the first followers of Jesus fully expected his imminent return.

Only in the Gospel of Matthew is found the story of the wise and foolish virgins. This tale seems to emphasize the point that we must exercise foresight, because the time of the coming of the Lord is uncertain. There's just no telling when.

The parable includes some detail exaggeration to prove a point. The bridegroom is late in coming for his bride. This is to reference the impatience of the members of the early Church. The virgins seem ungenerous, but the truth is no one can do the waiting for another. No one can live another person's life for them. Each one of us is responsible for his or her own attentive vigilance.

All our readings for today move us along toward an earthly practicality. This doesn't seem to be the case at the beginning of the readings. The focus seems to be on the end of life, rather than the object of our present life. Seeking God is to be the purpose and focus of our life. We learn that the end of life will take care of itself. We can leave all that alone in God's hands. Daily life is the stuff we are called to manage and mold and handle. We must seek Wisdom/God in all our doings and Wisdom will most certainly come to us. We live in the sure knowledge, won by the Resurrection, that we will not be left alone or left out like those who dallied or let all the oil drain away from their lamps.

In a most beautiful way in the scriptures this weekend we are called to tend our circle of light. This message is not nearly as noisy or frightening as the recurring ominous predictions of end-times one sees on TV or listens to from religious street preachers. And so, tend the Light of your life without fear or worry for we are ultimately in God's hands.