God Seeks Us

Nov. 8, 2020

32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

So often it may seem that the Sunday Scripture readings are vague, unrelated, and quite simply hard to understand. Let us take a look at today’s readings so that we can see the connection

And our first reading we hear from the book of Wisdom. Now let us remember that Wisdom in the Old Testament is a synonym, another name for the Holy Spirit. So when we hear about the activity of Wisdom, we are really hearing about the activity of the Holy Spirit. There are those in our world who quite naturally asked the question as we endure so many challenges, “Where is God and all of this?”

Many are tempted to conclude that God is not active, not present, but rather is remote – watching how we endure and struggle.

And yet this is not what Scripture tells us. Scripture tells us the God is eminent, active, present, always inviting us to participate in grace.

We are told in our first reading that Wisdom (ie. Holy Spirit) “will be found sitting at the gate of those who seek her” and that she“makes her own rounds”. Think of a doctor or nurse making their rounds, going to each patient. Think about this. The activity of God is to seek us as we seek Him. God wants us to participate in His plan and constantly gives us opportunity to make the kingdom of God a reality

This ties into the Gospel of today, the words of Jesus. The message that Jesus delivered more than any other is this, “the kingdom of God is at hand”. What that means is that the kingdom of God is not some distant reality that we will experience only when we die – only when we depart from this reality (that we call this life). It certainly includes those who are in the full mercy company and glory of God (that we call heaven), but it most certainly also includes our present reality. We are called (in fact commanded) by Christ by virtue of our baptism to actively participate in His plan of salvation and grace. This means that we who follow Him make heaven a reality on earth. We except His invitation of grace and transform our hearts and minds our spirits to be more and more like Him. As we change, we so change the world. If we are ourselves more patient, more kind, more grateful, more charitable – then we create those things to be real in our world. The challenge for us is to realize that God is actively engaging us and we have to be on the lookout for those moments. Each of us can in this next week look for moments in our daily tasks that can be turned into increased virtue. So think of the most toilsome task in your day. Are you able to make that a moment of increased patience, charity, gratitude? Do we take time to reflect on our participation in God’s plan of salvation? Or is our goal simply to make it to our bed at the end of every day? How can we participate in God‘s plan?

This leads us to the words of today’s Gospel. Jesus speaks about the kingdom of heaven. He uses an image of those who are ready and those who are not. It seems as if the wise versions are selfish and not sharing the oil with the foolish virgins. However the oil represents our love and relationship with God. Our readiness to participate in His plan. One cannot give that to another. I cannot give my relationship with God to you. I can inspire you, encourage you, support you, provide good example, but I cannot give my relationship with God to you. One has to develop their own relationship with the support, tradition, and fellowship of a faith community and family – but in the end that relationship has to be your individual choice and way of life. So how do we make our hearts ready? How do we make our lives ready? We do so by reflecting on scripture, by prayerful connection to the Lord, by intentionally following the God like traits of Jesus.

Our second reading from St. Paul gives us an example of how we can console one another with faith in Jesus Christ. Paul in our second reading speaks of our hope in eternity. That those who are dead, “fallen asleep“, are in fact with the Lord. We are exhorted by Paul to console one another with these words. So do you know someone who is grieving the loss of a loved one? Give them comfort through our hope in eternal salvation.

In this next week may we together realize God is actively seeking us. But the Holy Spirit is making her rounds. Let us be open to God‘s grace and on the lookout for opportunity to grow in virtue.

FIRST READING
Wis 6:12-16

Wisdom is found by those who seek her.

A reading from the Book of Wisdom

Resplendent and unfading is wisdom,
   and she is readily perceived by those who love her,
   and found by those who seek her.
She hastens to make herself known in anticipation of their desire;
   whoever watches for her at dawn shall not be disappointed,
   for he shall find her sitting by his gate.
For taking thought of wisdom is the perfection of prudence,
   and whoever for her sake keeps vigil
   shall quickly be free from care;
   because she makes her own rounds, seeking those worthy of her,
   and graciously appears to them in the ways,
   and meets them with all solicitude.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM
Ps 63:2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8

R. (2b) My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.

O God, you are my God whom I seek;
   for you my flesh pines and my soul thirsts
   like the earth, parched, lifeless and without water.

R. My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.

Thus have I gazed toward you in the sanctuary
   to see your power and your glory,
For your kindness is a greater good than life;
   my lips shall glorify you.

R. My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.

Thus will I bless you while I live;
   lifting up my hands, I will call upon your name.
As with the riches of a banquet shall my soul be satisfied,
   and with exultant lips my mouth shall praise you.

R. My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.

I will remember you upon my couch,
   and through the night-watches I will meditate on you:
You are my help,
   and in the shadow of your wings I shout for joy.

R. My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.

SECOND READING
1 Thes 4:13-18 or 4:13-14

God, through Jesus, will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.

A reading from the first Letter of Saint Paul to the Thessalonians

We do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters,
   about those who have fallen asleep,
   so that you may not grieve like the rest, who have no hope.
For if we believe that Jesus died and rose,
   so too will God, through Jesus,
   bring with him those who have fallen asleep.
Indeed, we tell you this, on the word of the Lord,
   that we who are alive,
   who are left until the coming of the Lord,
   will surely not precede those who have fallen asleep.
For the Lord himself, with a word of command,
   with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God,
   will come down from heaven,
   and the dead in Christ will rise first.
Then we who are alive, who are left,
   will be caught up together with them in the clouds
   to meet the Lord in the air.
Thus we shall always be with the Lord.
Therefore, console one another with these words.

Or: [Short Form]

We do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters,
   about those who have fallen asleep,
   so that you may not grieve like the rest, who have no hope.
For if we believe that Jesus died and rose,
   so too will God, through Jesus,
   bring with him those who have fallen asleep.

GOSPEL ACCLAMATION
Mt 24:42a, 44

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Stay awake and be ready!
For you do not know on what day your Lord will come.

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GOSPEL
Mt 25:1-13

Behold the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew

Jesus told his disciples this parable:
“The kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins
who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.
Five of them were foolish and five were wise.
The foolish ones, when taking their lamps,
brought no oil with them,
but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps.
Since the bridegroom was long delayed,
they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
At midnight, there was a cry,
‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’
Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps.
The foolish ones said to the wise,
‘Give us some of your oil,
for our lamps are going out.’
But the wise ones replied,
‘No, for there may not be enough for us and you.
Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’
While they went off to buy it,
the bridegroom came
and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him.
Then the door was locked.
Afterwards the other virgins came and said,
‘Lord, Lord, open the door for us!’
But he said in reply,
‘Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.’
Therefore, stay awake,
for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

At the end of the Gospel, the Deacon, or the Priest, acclaims:

The Gospel of the Lord.