The wedding

It is quite clear on the map. You go to the first traffic lights and turn left; then you go on to the next lights and turn right. Simple! But I did not look at the map! I forgot the old saying; ‘Time spent in reconnaissance is seldom wasted!’ We got lost and spent valuable time in the maze that is Kanyama and were late for our appointment with the inmates of Mwembeshi Open Prison. It was an omen for the day! On our way back the car would not start and we had to be rescued and towed the 40kms back to Lusaka, arriving seven hours late.

So I feel sympathy for the five young ladies who did not bring oil for their lamps. They had to run around shopping at night time and by the time they got back the doors were locked. They hadn’t prepared the event. They just presumed things would work out for them. They were too casual. The parable, a homely prelude to a wedding, is used by Jesus to teach a crucial lesson. It may not be a big deal in normal weddings. But this is no ordinary wedding.

A wedding, a marriage feast, was used by the prophets as a symbol of the joyful completing of the plan God has for his people. The day will come when he will gather them for a “wedding” which will celebrate the union, the “marriage” of God and his Church. “Church” means all those who have lived their lives in harmony with the will of God (Matt 25:31-46), whether they are explicitly aware of trying to do so or not. As the year ends, it will be Advent in a few weeks, the theme our readings hammer is: “Be ready!”

It is Saturday morning and people everywhere are making, or have made, choices for the week-end. What informs these choices? What attitudes do we have that will influence us as we make them? What “usual” activities are we planning? Is there any kind of “transcendent context” to what we will do – insofar as we are free to choose? What I mean is: are our choices informed by simple immediate impulses of self-gratification? Or are they in some way made in the interest of others?

We need to unpack what Jesus means by “Watch!” “Be prepared!” He is calling us to choose, to use our freedom – the greatest gift we have – to go beyond ourselves and so find ourselves (Luke 9:24). He is saying this in the context the promised wedding – “I shall betroth you to myself forever (Hos 2:21) – which is now here, begun by his coming. He is the bridegroom who has come. There is an abundance of bread (Mark 6:30-44) and wine (John 2:1-12). Get ready and come!

12 November 2017                              Sunday 32 A

Wisdom 6:12-16                                  1 Thess 4:13-18                                   Matt 25:1-13

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