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TAKE HEED, WATCH, AND PRAY
Fr. Steven Scherrer
Homily of Friday, 21st Week of the Year, August 28, 2009
1 Thess 4:1-8, Ps 96, Mt 25:1-13


"But at midnight there was a cry, Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him" (Mt 25:6).


We are now in the time of expectation with the ten virgins. We are awaiting the coming of the bridegroom, who can come at any time, and we do not know the hour or the day of his coming. Therefore we have to be always vigilant like these virgins. And when at last he comes, if we are prepared, we will enter with him into the joy of the wedding, the consummation of all things.


But not all of these virgins were wise. Not all carried flasks of oil along with their lamps. The oil is our good works for our sanctification. In order for our justification by faith to be valid and real, it has to manifest itself in good works. If it does not, it is not true justification by faith. Five of these virgins were shut out of the wedding because they lacked oil, that is, preparation through their own good works. Their lack of preparation shows that they were not really justified; and so they were excluded.


Hence, we learn that we must do all that is necessary to grow in holiness through a life of good works. We must cooperate with the grace of God and sanctify ourselves, that is, live a good and holy life, not a life that is choked, divided, dissipated, and weighed down "by the cares and riches and pleasures of life" (Lk 8:14). "Watch therefore," says the Lord, "for you know neither the day nor the hour" (Mt 25:13).


Now then is the time for vigilance. We can sleep-even the wise virgins slept-but we must be prepared as they were. When the bridegroom comes, if we are not prepared, there will be no time to buy oil. The door will be shut in our faces. Only now do we still have time to prepare ourselves. We will be prepared if we are always vigilant, and do not let ourselves be weighed down with dissipation and sleep.


"But take heed to yourselves," said Jesus, "lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a snare; for it will come upon all who dwell upon the face of the whole earth" (Lk 21:34-35).


We will see that day of the coming of the bridegroom-whether we are in this life or the next-but only if we are prepared will we rejoice in it. Those who are dissipated will not enter into the joy of their master (Mt 25:23). That day will be a snare for them. They will be like the seeds planted amid thorns. "...as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature" (Lk 8:14). So "Take heed, watch and pray," says the Lord; "for you do not know when the time will come" (Mk 13:33). We do not need to know the hour, but we do need to be prepared and vigilant at all times. "But watch at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of man" (Lk 21:36).


 


 


 

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