RCL Year A Proper 27 Alternate Readings
Amos 5:18-24; Psalm 70; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Saint Matthew 25:1-13
Would you be able to accept that the Christian life is about discovering that each one of us already has what he or she needs? We need God, and we find that God is present to us already, certainly in Word and Sacrament. We need forgiveness, and we discover that when we confess our sins, God is there to forgive us and to welcome us as we return to the fellowship.
The familiar parable of the wise and the foolish bridesmaids heralds the arrival of the Lord in the figure of the bridegroom. The arrival of the bridegroom reveals the wisdom of the wise and the foolishness of the foolish. The wise are ready and prepared with oil for their lamps while the foolish are not ready and not prepared; they have no oil for their lamps. The foolish have the money to buy the oil, and they have the time, at least for a while.
We all understand the truth of supply and demand: what is finite, can run out, and as it runs out, it becomes more and more valuable. We have a finite amount of time to prepare to greet him when he comes, and that finite amount of time dwindles until we get down to the business of preparing to greet him.
When the Lord comes, some of us will be ready, and some of us will not be ready. Insofar as you are able and free, can you today make a decision to be ready? If you’ve never thought about it before, if the thought has never crossed your mind, let this Gospel and this Eucharist be for you the occasion when you take responsibility to be prepared to meet the Lord when he comes.
You probably don’t need to buy oil for your lamps the way you need to buy oil for your furnaces. But you know what you need to do, whether it’s a promise to be kept or a forgiveness to be extended, in order to be ready. At the moment, there is time. But the chilling thing about this parable is that there will be that time when there is no time remaining. There is a point of no return. None of us has reached it, but it is coming as sure as winter.
You recall that the wise and the foolish fall asleep together while they wait for the bridegroom. We’re in that time now. Those of us who are unprepared have the time we need to do what we need to do to be ready to meet the Lord.
The time is ours to use as we see fit. Are we going to use it wisely, or are we going to use it foolishly? Which will it be, in time and for eternity?