God wants to be found

11-08-2020Pastoral ReflectionsFr. Brian

Advertisers often try to engage our attention by using words like “quick”, “fast”, “convenient”, “prepared”, “saves time”, or similar words. We are encouraged to buy many things so that we have more “free time” to pursue what interests us to be our “better self”, which usually means less than what it says. We are to use all sorts of products to give us all the time necessary for ourselves. Things are to help us be a better person. How we are better usually has to do with looks or physique or something similar. It does not have to do with our inner qualities. Rarely does all this “new time” have to do with the meaning or purpose of our life.

The reading from Wisdom; our first reading, is the most recent of all the Old Testament Books. It was composed in Egypt, not Israel, about a half-century before the birth of Jesus Christ; it is the “newest” Old Testament book. It was written in Alexandria, Egypt somewhere between 50 and 30 B.C. The author is a Jewish scholar and philosopher who writes from the perspective of his minority faith to a majority of Greek culture in a nonJewish country. In this book the author makes Wisdom to be a personified attribute of God. He tells his readers and listeners that Lady Wisdom that is the object of concern for the seeker is readily available. He clearly says that the person who loves, seeks, and watches for Wisdom will find her right nearby. Bear in mind this “Wisdom” is actually God because God is not hidden or elusive or even deceptive or tricky. Wisdom— that is, God— wants to be found; God in the image of Wisdom is open to the seeker.

This image of seeking, vigil keeping, or attentiveness is also found in our Gospel passage and story. The Gospel of Matthew was composed almost 50 to 70 years after the Death and Resurrection of Jesus. The people were now struggling with questions about death and its meaning and, more graphically, the question of the end times of the world. The followers of Jesus were tired of waiting for him to return and no longer knew what to think or do. Thus the story of the foolish virgins, found only in Matthew, is to help with the issue of waiting for the coming of the Lord and also to know that that we need to have foresight about our purpose and meaning.

This parable in Matthew is loaded with dramatic detail and exaggeration to help reinforce its message. We are being directed towards a practical approach to living our faith. We are being told that we need to look not just at today in our life, but also at its end and purpose. We are to see that our life is to be about seeking God. It is clear from the words of Jesus we do not know the time or hour of his return and that we do not need to know it. We are to live our daily life with faith, meaning, and purpose. This purpose is about finding God in our lives and living in light of his message of hope and light. It is not really about ourselves, but about how we share the life of God himself. Clearly, we hear in our culture “it is about me” but we need to hear instead “it is about you, O Lord.”