Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Stuck In My Brain

I can't seem to shake an idea that lodged in my brain from the 25th Chapter of the Gospel of Matthew.  It is the parable of the 10 virgins -- 5 wise and 5 foolish -- waiting for the return of the bridegroom.  The wise were prepared for a potential delay in his return.  They brought extra provisions.  Specifically noted is the oil for their lamps.  The foolish were unprepared, ran out of oil, and ended up out in the dark.


As a child in I learned a little ditty in CCD:
"Jesus bids us shine with a pure clear light,
Like a little candle, burning in the night.
In this world of darkness, so we must shine.
You in your small corner, and I in mine. "

I get the details.  I understand the application.  What haunts me is that all 10 fell asleep.  The foolish and the wise were not able to stay awake until the bridegroom's return.  Of course, the parable is not referencing the natural sleep that the human body requires.  If the bridegroom was long delayed (days? weeks? longer?) there is no choice but to sleep.  Parables, however, always point to something beyond the literal meaning.  Thus, I would gather that their slumber was a reference to some human aspect (original sin?  weakness? ) in their spiritual lives.  The saving difference was the preparedness of the wise for a potential delay.

BUT ALL 10 FELL ASLEEP!

Something about that Biblical statement is very compelling to me.  If it were not for the midnight cry, all 10 may have missed the bridegroom, whether they were well oiled or not.
And all 10 woke up.  No one slept through the event.  Yet five foolish flameless females failed.  While wise willful women went with wicks well-oiled to the wedding.

I would have ruined the parable.  I would have shared my oil.  After all, there have been many times that i have been a bit foolish.  I am not always a good steward.  I sometimes waist food, resources, time, energy and opportunities.  And if we all shared, maybe, just maybe there might have been enough for all 10 to be able to greet the bridegroom.  After all, he was on the horizon when the clarion call came at midnight.  How much oil did the wise guys really need at that point?

I digress!

I am concerned that we Catholics have fallen asleep, the wise and the foolish.  The bridegroom is coming, but only God knows when.  Some will be wise and prepared.  Their souls will be in a state of Grace.  I know that is the primary point of the Gospel passage.  Be ready.  And yet...

And yet...  there are so many souls not ready:
People, heavy and loaded down with the trials of life...People who do not know the Good News about God's Love in Jesus Christ...People who have been duped...People who have given in...People who have given up...People bent over by burdens terribly unknown and unspeakable...People...SOULS.  
We sleep.  Others starve.  We sleep.  Children are sold into protistution.  We sleep.  Women are battered.  We sleep.  Men, women and children die violent deaths because someone has the bombs, chemicals and machines of war to enforce their borders or force their beliefs on others.  We sleep.  We sleep.  When we wake for short periods or long, it is to secure our lamps, trim our own wicks and too bad about the others.  They should have prepared.

ALL TEN SLEPT!

We thought the world was better.  We thought human dignity was respected.  We thought we were peacefully coexisting.  After all, it is the Dawning of the Age of Aquarius, we once gleefully sang.  And all the while the bombs were falling:  bombs of war, bombs of abortion, bombs of sin, bombs of selfishness, bombs of tyrants, bombs of megalomaniacs, bombs of pollution, bombs of bigotry, bombs of hatred, bombs of terrorists, bombs of apathy, bombs of lies and falsehoods, bombs of racism, bombs of ignorance, bombs of slavery.

We thought, so we slept.  Not so wise after all...

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