32 Sunday A: 10 Virgins: 5 Wise and 5 Foolish



Michel DeVerteuil
General Comments
Today’s passage is a teaching on “what the kingdom of heaven will be like” (verse 1). This biblical expression means the coming of grace into the world. The passage therefore is a teaching on grace, inviting us to recognise and celebrate our experiences of grace, and to prepare ourselves for future comings.
“Will be” is a reminder that the final and definitive coming of grace lies in the future, but the teaching also refers to the many partial but real comings of grace that we and our communities (including the worldwide human family) have experienced.

10-virginsThe teaching is parabolic so it is important to remind ourselves of how we meditate on a parable:
– The parable comprises different characters; we choose the one(s) we want to identify with and read the parable from his or her (their) perspective.
– A “crunch point” occurs at a certain stage of the story, a turning point which jolts us so that
we know instinctively that this is the central moment in the parable. The “crunch point” will
be different for different people; indeed it will be different for us at different stages in our lives.
In this parable there are four possible “crunch points”:
1. -The moment of the cry, “the bridegroom is here” (verse 6) – grace  always takes us by surprise.
2. -The foolish bridesmaids find out that their lamps are going out and the wise ones will not give them oil
(verses 7 to 9) – grace is always “disturbing”.
3. -The wise bridesmaids go with the bridegroom into the wedding hall (verse 10) – grace is pure joy.
4. -The foolish bridesmaids come late and are told “I don’t know you” (vs 11 and 12)  – grace brings feelings of remorse, despair even, but as a step to conversion.
In each case the bridesmaids represent two possibilities and we have been both at different times of our lives. The “wise” (a better word than the Jerusalem Bible’s “sensible”) are ourselves at our best, the “foolish” ourselves at our worst.
We can also focus on the bridegroom, remembering times when someone waited a long time for us to come to the best of ourselves (I took this approach in one of the prayers below).
Focussing on the person of Jesus can help bring the passage alive for us. At this point in his life, he is in
Jerusalem, about to be arrested and crucified.  The parable then becomes a testimony to his own attitude –
he is a wise bridesmaid, ready for his moment of grace. It is also a heartfelt warning to his beloved disciples that they must not be like the foolish bridesmaids and miss their moment of grace when he is arrested. Who does he remind us of?
Textual commentsVerse 6: We can focus on either of two aspects of the moment of grace:
– It does not happen instantly, we have to wait a long time for it, so long that we “grow  drowsy
(get a feel for that) and fall asleep”.
– When it comes, it is a surprise, like being wakened from sleep by a peremptory cry (“a rude awakening”).
Verses 7 to 9: Grace always disturbs. It makes us fumble, look for solutions that are both impractical and
unreasonable – like expecting the wise bridesmaids to give of their oil supply even though they risk not
having enough, neither for themselves nor for others.
We must make the effort to identity what Jesus meant by the “extra flask” of oil. It is what makes the
difference between “good” and “great”, “courageous” and “heroic”, “run-of-the-mill” and “special”.
Verse 10: The moment of grace is like entering into a great festive hall, accompanied by one we have
waited long for. We think of:
– our marriage ceremony (or 25th or 50th  anniversary);
– the first sexual experience;
– the return home of an addict;
– a moment of national reconciliation.
Verses 11 and 12: These verses are almost unbearably sad. We enter into the feelings of the rejected
bridesmaids, the finality of the door being closed while the bridesmaids shout, “open up,” the hopelessness
of hearing the words “I don’t know you”. We can imagine the  remorse –  “why wasn’t I ready when
he came?”
We think of similar experiences:
– parents wanting their children to open up to them after years of neglecting them;
– abusers faced with the break up of their families;
– national leaders trying in vain to get warring parties to be reconciled.
The teaching reminds us that we must live with the consequences of our choices.
There is nothing airy fairy about Jesus – or about teachers like him.
Though this particular relationship can never be recovered, there will be other chances of healthy
relationships – so the teaching is positive and a call to repentance.
The concluding verse 13 stands on its own. It is not strictly a comment on the parable since none of the
bridesmaids actually “stay awake”. The verse is rather a general teaching on “staying awake”
to the grace of the present moment – “the day and the hour”.
The deepest truth of every “day and hour” is that the bridegroom has arrived.
We give the word “know” its full meaning of “perceiving all the possibilities latent in…”.

Scriptural Prayer reflection
 Lord, you really like to keep us waiting:
– for long years we struggled with an alcohol problem;
– we thought that a difficult child would never settle down;
– the parish youth group kept going from one crisis to the next.
Then, all of a sudden, out of the blue, the moment of grace came.
It was as if at midnight, when everybody had gone to sleep,
there was a cry, “The bridegroom is here! Go out to meet him!”
We thank you that we did not give up hope;
somehow or other we had left ourselves open to the possibility of better things:
we had kept an extra flask of oil alongside our regular supply,
so that we were able to trim our lamps and welcome the bridegroom when he came.
Thank you, Lord.
“My mother don’t have time to talk to me. I don’t have her to tell me things.
 When she comes home from work, she only has time to clean the kitchen, go to
 sleep and back to work again.”    …A young boy in Trinidad
Lord, we pray for parents.
It is not easy for them.
They are frequently so tired at the end of the day
that when the children come to share their lives with them
they have grown drowsy and fallen asleep.
Give them that reserve of energy
so that they may never have to come knocking at the door of their children’s hearts
and hear the terrible words, “I do not know you.”
Lord, we thank you for the experience of the sacrament of reconciliation
celebrated after many years being away.
It was like arriving late at night, long after we were due,
and yet being welcomed with great joy
like a bridegroom being escorted into the wedding hall.
Lord, nowadays we are accustomed to doing things instantly,
turning a switch or putting in a plug.
So we tend to think that we can know people instantly too.
But having someone open up to us always takes a long time.
It is like being a bridesmaid and having to wait late into the night
for the bridegroom to come, and then continue to wait,
and when we have almost given up hope that he will come,
to hear that he is there and we must go out to meet him.
It is only after that kind of waiting that two persons can enter into deep intimacy.
“I promise by thy grace that I will embrace whatever I last feel certain is the truth,
  if I ever come to be certain.  …Cardinal Newman as he wondered whether he should join the Catholic Church
Lord, we pray for those who are searching:
– those who, like Cardinal Newman, ask themselves if they should leave their Church and join another;
– young people not sure what their vocation in life is;
– friends who cannot decide on marriage.
Give them the grace to continue waiting,
not pretending that the bridegroom has come if he hasn’t,
confident that when at midnight there is the cry, “He is here!”
they will go out to meet him.
Lord, we spend a lot of energy fighting against the present moment
– blaming ourselves or others for mistakes of the past;
– regretting that things are not as good as they could be;
– anxious about how the future will be.
And so our eyes are closed to the possibilities that are there in the present.
Teach us always to stay awake, because we do not know the day or the hour of your grace.
“Care for the dying is founded upon two unshakeable beliefs:
       that each minute of life should be lived to the full,
       and that death is quite simply part of life,
       to be faced openly and with hands outstretched.”  ….Sheila Cassidy
Lord, we thank you that you call some of us to minister to the dying.
Some are afraid, others angry or confused.
You want us to help them all to welcome you;
to teach people, as Jesus did,
that it is all right if we fall asleep when you are long in coming,
because we know that when the cry goes up, “The bridegroom is here!”
we will merely trim our lamps and go into the wedding hall with him.
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 Thomas O’Loughlin
Introduction to the Celebration
Sisters and brothers, each week when we assemble for the Eucharist we enter into the presence of the Father, and offer him the sacrifice of praise in union with Christ Jesus. We enter into the presence of Christ, and through him into the presence of the Father. Today we reflect that as the people of the Lord Jesus we are called to be always awake and ready to bring his wisdom to our world and to be his presence among all the people we encounter.

Homily Notes
1. How do we learn to be Christians? This question assumes that we already have a clear sense of who we are when we gather here.
2. Let’s think of some groups that we are all familiar with. The first is a group of people on a plane: they all want to go to the same place at the same time, so they have something distinc­tive in common; but would you call them a community? They are really a collection of individuals who just happen to have something in common, and it is easier to get a service if the costs are distributed. Imagine someone offered that group a free lottery: ten lucky people could win a chance to travel in a private jet to the same destination at the same time: there would be them (either on her /his own, or if they are travelling as a couple or a family, then just the couple or family on the private jet). How many would want his/her name in the draw? I suspect, virtually everyone. The group travelling together is only a collection with little that matters in common.
Now imagine a long-distance train or bus journey: the train/bus goes along a fixed route each day from A to Z, and there are a few who are on it for the whole journey. Others get on at C and off at K, while others get on at K and go on to X; still more get on somewhere else and get off at yet another stop. It is a friendly train, the conductor reminds people that they are approaching a station and warns them to be ready to get off, if that is their stop and reminds them to check that each has all personal belongings with them. Sometimes those who take a train often, recognise other travellers by sight, sometimes they might even speak, sometimes not a word is uttered. And, while they all go along the same journey together, each has individual interests: some are reading, some chatting to friends, others listening to music on headphones, others texting on their mobiles, and here and there you can see people with a look of deep concentration: they are doing Sudoku.
3. Now shift your imagination to a birthday party. Again, lots of people in the same place at the same time with a common interest. But the dynamics are completely different: they all have a sensed of being there because of something that unites them. There would be no sense in asking if they wanted to eat separately or go off on their own: their whole purpose is to be together. This is what celebration means. People are doing different things, but it is the whole group that makes the party.
4. Now consider this: is gathering today for this Eucharist just people together in the sense of the plane (all want the same thing and cannot get ‘it’ individually) or the bus (people just joining in for the bits they need) or is it a celebration: all invited to be the party at the banquet?
5. Jesus came to form a community. We say that we are called to his supper, and he wants the way we behave here at his table to be a model for how we treat one another and all people.
6. But is this our attitude? We offer a sign of peace, but are we ready to make common cause with those around us? Do we seek to get to know them? This is the great open meal, so if someone has just joined us today, would they feel welcome?
7. We have to learn to be Christians by learning to live and work together; but Jesus realised that a primary first step was to learn how to share with one another at this meal. Here we learn how to be Christians; here we learn how we must com­municate the welcoming love of the Father; here we are acclimatised as a group for the banquet prepared for us in heaven.
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Donal Neary SJ
Jesus always new

 The lamp is the light of love and hope, and at its centre is the light of Christ. The light is given to us in many ways in our lives – it shines within as an eternal joy, and outwards to many others. Jesus often advises, ‘keep your lamps burning’ and ‘Let you lights shine.
Like when the bulb goes out when the electricity fails, the lamp can go out without oli. The people of the gospel felt foolish that they had not brought oil with them to light their way. The oil is prayer an our relationship with Jesus. This is the essence of the Christian life. Our Christian life is following a real, loving person: it is an invitation to get to know Jesus, and to find ourselves drawn from our hearts to follow him. Without this living relationship with Christ, words sound empty. We sometimes hear someone speaking of their Christian faith and cannot help wondering if it comes from the inside or is just a list of things to be believed and read.
Ignatius of Loyola’s famous prayer is the prayer of the follower of Jesus; ‘Lord, teach me to know you more, love you more and serve you more faithfully in my life.’ (Spiritual Exercises). The more indicates that this is never a finished product: like love and friendship it grows in our lives. It is exciting that Jesus is never gone from us.: risen from the dead he is always alive, always new. Our reading of the gospel, our sharing at Mass and the sacraments and our personal prayer keep this relationship always alive, always new.
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Fr. John Speekman:


Wisdom 6:12-16; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Matthew 25:1-13
 
There are five words in the Gospel today which present us with a very simple image of the most critical moment in all human destiny.
Those five words are: ...and the door was closed.
The image is simple enough - a closed door. Since the bridesmaids who came later could not get in we can assume also that the door was locked, or perhaps it had no handle on the outside.
 
That door is the most important door in the whole of existence, it is the door to the wedding banquet, to the Kingdom of God - the door to heaven.
But this image of a door is also the image of a decisive moment:Those who were ready went in with him to the wedding hall and the door was closed.
 
We may wonder, does the door of heaven make a noise when it closes? Does it close with a thunderous, frightening, once-and-for-all bang? And, if heaven is a place of light and joy, when the door closed did it leave all those on the other side in darkness and in deep silence? We can only wonder.
The whole purpose of the parable is to get us thinking about the choices we make during our life which prepare us for that moment when the door closes - choices which will make sure that we are on the right side of the door.
 
Surely one of the lessons of this Gospel is that once the door is shut, it won't be opened again, for anyone.
 
In our first reading from the book of Wisdom God invites Solomon to ask for any gift he wants - and he asks for wisdom! - wisdom to run his kingdom.
 
Would you have thought of asking for something like that? 'Gosh, Lord, I do have a huge mortgage, and those credit card bills, and then, of course, my health problems, my kids, and I would like a good holiday - but no, Lord, I know what I want - give me wisdom.'
 
We thrill at the compelling image, which emerges from the heart of the first reading, of wisdom energetically roaming the streets searching for those who are searching for he
 
St Augustine said: You would not be seeking him [God] if you had not already found him
 
So in the time remaining let's look at the first reading. There are two characters on stage: Wisdom, and the one who values her.
Those who want Wisdom:
love her
look for her
desire her
watch for her
think about her
are on the alert for her
are worthy of her
 
It's pretty obvious that these people really do value wisdom because the search for her seems to preoccupy them.

Wisdom herself:
is bright
is readily seen
is readily found
is quick to anticipate
 makes herself known
is sitting at your gates
walks about looking for those who are worthy of her
graciously shows herself
comes to meet [those who seek her]

What does all this tell us?
 
We obtain wisdom by wanting her.
Those who want wisdom go looking for her.
Wisdom wants to be found and gives herself readily to those who seek her.
Those who receive her desire her even more.
So eager is wisdom to give herself to us that in order to remain 'foolish' we practically have to fight her off.
What is wisdom? What good is wisdom?
Wisdom is a gift of God.
Wisdom helps us ‘understand’ God, ourselves, others, and the world.
Wisdom helps us to make the right choices.
Wisdom allows us to see things the way God sees them.
Wisdom is ‘understanding fully grown’.
Wisdom is a sharing in the thinking of God. [The wise person thinks like God.]
Wisdom brings us closer to God and makes us more pleasing to God.
Wisdom makes us better at teaching others.
Wisdom leads us to heaven; it keeps us ‘awake’ to God.
Wisdom ensures that we are on the right side of the door when it shuts.

Look at the amazing soul who is ‘thirsting’ for God in the Psalm.
I long for you.
I thirst for you.
I gaze on you.
I speak your praise.
I bless you.
I lift up my hands to you.
I remember you.
I muse on you.
I rejoice in you.

Wisdom is something we ‘choose’ like the five bridesmaids did. Having chosen it wisdom becomes second nature to us.
We can also reject it like the other five bridesmaids did. And then we remain condemned to a foolishness we ourselves cannot see.
I don't know if there really is a door but I do know there really will be such a moment, such a moment of truth; I pray that when it comes, we may all find ourselves together in the wedding hall - for all eternity.
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Homily from Father Joseph Pellegrino
 

I want to begin today by asking you to imagine that you are the main beneficiary of a distant relative's will. It seems this relative was quite eccentric as well as quite wealthy. A great deal of money is left for you to spend, but there are certain rules. Everyday for a year, your bank account would be credited with $86,400. If you wanted to spend any of this money, you had to produce bills showing why money was being withdrawn from your account. You could not save the money in another account. At the end of the banking day, whatever you did not spend would be removed from your account. The next day you would start with a fresh $86,400. I am sure that you and I would find some really creative things to do with the money. Now, let's return to reality. Every day we are given 86,400 seconds to make the best use of. Every night, God writes off as lost whatever portion of this time we have not used well or have wasted. In the bank of time, there are no balances and no overdrafts. Each day a new account is opened for us. Each night, what remains is written off, lost, gone forever.

Every day's 86,400 seconds has to be invested wisely in commodities that will hold their value from day to day, quarter to quarter, year to year and beyond. Lasting values need to be found, values like justice, compassion, forgiveness, and love. There were five wise virgins and five foolish ones. The five foolish virgins squandered their time. The five wise virgins made the best use of every moment. The wise virgins entered into the banquet of the Master's love. The foolish virgins were too busy wasting time to be ready for their Master's return. How much time do you and I have left? We really don't know. Recently, we have had young members of our parish come down with sudden illnesses and die just a few months after the diagnosis. Others have been killed in accidents. In our American denial of death, we all like to think that sudden death happens to other people. There is no reason why it shouldn't happen to any of us. But it does.              


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Illustrations:

Fr. Jude Boteho:

The first reading from the Book of Wisdom personifies wisdom, as Lady Wisdom, who is to be found by all who seek her. Through divine wisdom God communicates to mankind the meaning of life and living. What we need most in life is wisdom; when we have found God we become truly wise since He guides our every step. True wisdom in a person is that quality that shows that one is truly in contact with God, and that He is, in a large measure, acting in one’s life. Wisdom can be said to be the inner light, given by God, which, is given only to those who thirst for it, seek it, love it and carefully nurture it when received.

The Parable of the Cave
Three wise men were encouraged to find what had been called the Cave of wisdom and life. They made careful preparations for what would be a challenging and arduous journey. When they reached the place of the cave, they noted a guard at the entrance. They were not permitted to enter the cave until they had spoken to the guard. He had only one question for them, and he demanded that they answer only after talking it over with one another. He assured them that they would have a guide to lead them through the regions of the cave. His question was a simple one, “How far into the Cave of wisdom and life do you wish to go?” The three travelers took counsel together and returned to the guard. Their response was, “Oh, not very far. We just want to go far enough into the cave so that we can say that we have been there.” The reaction of the guard manifested none of his great disappointment as he summoned someone to lead the three seekers a short distance into the cave, and then watched them set out again after a very short time, set out to make the journey back into their own land.Paula Ripple in ‘Walking with Loneliness’

In today’s Gospel Jesus tells a parable of the five wise and five foolish virgins to remind us that we should be awake and prepared for the coming of the Lord, because we do not know at what hour he will come. The virgins stand for people who are waiting for the coming of the Lord. To be wise is to be ready and prepared for any eventuality, for what might happen. Jewish wedding ceremonies were celebrated at night. The girls who formed the procession accompanied the groom to the house of the girl’s father. No time was set. Those who were prepared were welcomed, while the unprepared were left out. Their fault wasn't to sleep but to be unprovided for their part in the torchlight procession. Missing the feast meant losing the kingdom. The virgins typify mankind in search of purpose. Some lack resolution, others are preoccupied with the distractions and trivialities while some stay focused on their ultimate purpose.

The kingdom of heaven is like…

The kingdom of heaven is like ten young people who wanted to hear a very popular pop group that was due to arrive in town. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. When the tickets went on sale the five wise ones queued up all night and duly secured their tickets. But the five foolish ones did not bother to queue up for them. On the night of the concert they went along nevertheless, thinking that they would be able to buy tickets at the door, or that they would meet someone who would get them in. Alas, when they got there, all the tickets were gone, and they were turned away at the door. They went away with a sad and empty feeling. –Most of us know that feeling. It’s not a pleasant feeling. Still we get over it. Usually, what’s at stake is not that important –a football match, or a concert, or some such thing. Life goes on; we survive and soon forget about it. But in Jesus’ story what is at stake in nothing less than our eternal salvation.

 Flor McCarthy in ‘New Sunday & Holy Day Liturgies’ 

He wants the best for us

A columnist, Scott Bennett, tells the story of a man ‘Michael’, who was facing a series of devastating reversals in his life, leaving him desperate and defenseless. He had no job, his car had been repossessed, his marriage was ending, and his father had just died a month earlier. One night, in a frantic cry for help, Michael lifted up his face to the stars. And then the incredible happened. This is how he expressed it: “I felt I was one with…. call it God, call it creation… I don’t know. I do know I felt a peace that I have never known before or since. A power and a purpose was revealed to me that night that I cannot put in words. But I never doubted again that life is precious and has a purpose. –As Christians we are blessed with a faith that teaches us we have in God a compassionate father, whose thoughts are above ours as the heavens are above the earth. God who created us loves us, cares for us and will never cease pursuing what is best for us even if we fail out of human frailty. “What the caterpillar calls the end of the road, God calls a butterfly.”

James Valladares in ‘Your words, O Lord, Are Spirit, and They Are Life’ 

God comes to us in spite of ourselves!

A woman was at work when she received a phone call that her daughter was very sick with fever. She left her work and stopped by the pharmacy to pick up some medication for her daughter. On returning to her car she found that she had locked her keys in the car. She was in a hurry to get home to her sick daughter. She found a coat hanger there. Then she looked at the hanger and said, “I don’t know how to use this.” So she bowed her head and asked the Lord to send some help. A man got out of his car and asked her if he could help. “Please can you use this hanger to unlock my car?” she said. He said, “Sure.” He walked over to the car and in less than one minute, the car was opened. She hugged the man and through tears, she said, “Thank you so much! You are a very nice man.” The man replied, “Lady, I am not a nice man. I just got out of prison today. I was in prison for car theft and have only been out for about an hour.” The woman hugged the man again and with sobbing tears cried aloud, “Oh, Thank you God! You even sent me a professional!” –While we are all sinners, the Lord sees the good within us and keeps coming, knocking at the door of our hearts, encouraging us to come closer to him.

Tomi Thomas in ‘Spice up your homilies’ 

End-time or Beginning-time?

A wise monk was once playing in the fields when a friend asked him, “If God were to call you to himself right now, what would you do?” Without batting an eyelid the monk replied, “I’d continue playing here!” Blessed are those who live fully in the present, and fully prepared for any unforeseeable future. – On September 14, 2005, an Australian Jesuit colleague and friend Paddy Meagher, bade farewell to India after more than four decades of dedicated service here. He was suffering from melanoma (skin cancer) that has struck suddenly and spread over his face leaving lumps likely to affect his brain and throat. Bravely enduring his pain he said, “I know I’ll die soon and I’m prepared. Nonetheless, I’ll continue reading and writing until death comes!” Paddy died on January 5, 2006. For wise virgins like these, there is always oil in their lamps. And for many of the victims of earthquakes who call God Abba or Allah, what we see as end-time is more likely to be a
beginning-time for the eternal wedding feast.

Francis Gonsalves in ‘Sunday Seeds for Daily Deeds’ 

Cared for the least of his people

There were some eyebrows raised when John XXIII was elected pope. He was in his seventies and there was no great hope that he was going to shake the Church. One of the first things he did, however, made people sit up and notice. He went in person to visit prisoners in one of Rome’s prisons. He met them as equals and chatted informally with each. He even disclosed that he himself had a relative in jail! The work and short pontificate of this man was going to open many doors, and set many prisoners free.

Jack McArdle in ‘And that’s the Gospel Truth’  

Daily Vigilance

The image of this Sunday is a group - community holding high, torches aflame with hope. Today’s readings provide our parish community with a fine opportunity to recognize our countless private and public acts of kindness to others that have burned brightly as torches of hope to others. Sunday

Eucharist is a time to replenish our lamps. – One day Julie returned from school to find her pet guinea pig was missing. She rushed to her mother to ask about it. Her mother said, “I gave it away because you did not take care of it. “But I did take care of it,” she said. “Julie, I gave it away ten days ago!” – Our watchfulness should be a daily thing. Keep vigil of your marriage. A separation/divorce happens with each other’s knowledge –caused by non-vigilance. Keep vigil of your faith, Vigilance is needed in seeking God and one another.  

John Pichappilly in ‘The Table of the Word’

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Fr. Tony Kadavil:

1) “Be prepared” and “Don’t run out of gas.”:

One thing that all Scouts, young and old, never forget is the Boy Scout Motto: "Be prepared." If you’ve ever set up a tent and didn’t tie your lines securely, you know what happens when the wind and rain hits! A tent collapse in the middle of the night is a rude awakening! Or, if you get a brand-new pair of hiking boots and don’t properly break them in, then go on a ten-mile hike, it’s pretty painful! You might forget bug-spray during mosquito season. Or if you bring a flashlight on a campout, but not extra batteries; that can make it somewhat challenging finding the latrine in the middle of the night! We sometimes learn the hard way to anticipate our needs. We need to plan ahead, before it’s too late. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark! Through the parable of the ten virgins, Jesus warns us to be ever prepared for the end of our lives.  How many of you have ever run out of gas? In most audiences, this would be nearly everyone. I cannot verify these statistics, so I caution you that they may be flawed. It would appear that every year at least a half million people call for help because they have run out of gas. Besides flat tires, dead batteries, and misplaced keys, running out of gas ranks right up there in the reasons why people call for roadside service. One might understand this happening a generation ago, when gas gauges were not entirely accurate, and when all the warning lights of our day were non-existent. But now we have warning messages that our fuel is running low (giving us perhaps an hour more of driving), and then additional, progressively urgent warnings indicating just how many estimated miles of driving we have left. One must say that most people who run out of fuel are “without excuse.”

2) Forgetting the parachute:  
 
In April, 1988 the evening news reported the sad story of a photographer who was also a skydiver.  He had jumped from a plane along with several other skydivers and filmed the group as they individually dove out of the plane and opened their parachutes.  As the video was being shown of each member of the crew jumping out and then pulling their rip chord so that their parachute opened to the wind, the final skydiver opened his chute and then the picture went out of control.  The announcer reported that the cameraman had fallen to his death, having jumped out of the plane without a parachute.  It wasn’t until he reached for the ripcord that he realized he was in free fall, taking pictures without a parachute.  Tragically he was unprepared for the jump.  It did not matter how many times he had done it before or what skill he had.  By forgetting the parachute, he made a foolish and deadly mistake.  Nothing could save him, because his Faith was in a parachute which he had never taken the trouble to buckle on.  It is a story not unlike the parable which Jesus tells about the foolish bridesmaids forgetting to bring something very important and necessary
3) "What's your purpose in life, Bob?"
Josh McDowell tells about an executive "head-hunter" (recruiter) who goes out and hires corporation executives for large firms. This recruiter once told McDowell that when he gets an executive that he's trying to hire for someone else, he likes to disarm him. "I offer him a drink," said the recruiter, "take my coat off, then my vest, undo my tie, throw up my feet and talk about baseball, football, family, whatever, until he's all relaxed. Then, when I think I've got him relaxed, I lean over, look him square in the eye and say, ‘What's your purpose in life?' It's amazing," said the recruiter, "how top executives fall apart at that question." Then he told about interviewing one fellow recently. He had him all disarmed, had his feet up on his desk, talking about football. Then the recruiter leaned over and said, "What's your purpose in life, Bob?" And the executive who was being recruited said, without blinking an eye, "To go to Heaven and take as many people with me as I can." "For the first time in my career," said the recruiter, "I was speechless." [Stories For the Heart, compiled by Alice Gray (Sisters, Oregon: Multnomah Books, 1996), p. 112.] No wonder -- he had encountered someone who was really prepared! In today’s Gospel parable of the ten virgins Jesus warns us to be ever prepared to meet God our Creator at the end of our lives to give an account of how we have lived. ( 21 additional anecdotes are uploaded in our website: stjohngrandbay.org) .
4) A tour group was riding in an elevator to the top of the Empire State Building. 

At about the 102nd floor, a woman asked the tour guide, “If the cables on this elevator break, do we go up or down?”  The tour guide answered, “Well, that depends on how you are living.”  

5) A   Sunday school teacher
was testing the children in her class one morning to see if they understood the concept of "getting to Heaven."   She said, "If I sold my house and my car, held a big garage sale and gave all my money to the Church, would that get me into Heaven?"
"NO!" the children answered.
"If I cleaned the Church every day, mowed the yard, and kept everything neat and tidy, would that get me into Heaven?"
Again, the answer was, "NO!" 
"Well, then, if I was kind to animals, gave candy to children and loved my husband, would that get me into Heaven?"
Again, they all answered, "NO!" 
“Well," the teacher continued, “how do I get into Heaven?"
A five-year-old boy shouted out, "YOU GOTTA BE DEAD." 
6) When Bishop Philip Brooks,
 author of “O, Little Town of Bethlehem,” was seriously ill, he requested that none of his friends come to see him.  But when an acquaintance of his named Robert Ingersoll, the famous anti-Christian propagandist, came to see him, Brooks allowed him to enter his room.  Ingersoll said, “I appreciate this very much, especially when you aren’t letting any of your close friends see you.”  Bishop Brooks responded, “Oh, I’m confident of seeing them in the next world, but this may be my last chance to see you.” 
7) Hibernation in the White House: 
Do you recall Laura Bush’s comments a few years ago about her husband?  She said, “George always says he’s delighted to come to these press dinners.  Baloney.  He’s usually in bed by now.  I’m not kidding.  I said to him the other day, ‘George, if you really want to end tyranny in the world, you’re going to have to stay up later.’  I am married to the president of the United States, and here’s our typical evening: Nine o’clock, Mr. Excitement here is sound asleep, and I’m watching “Desperate Housewives” on television. One day in February 2003, with America on the verge of a war with Iraq, Secretary of State Colin Powell was reminded that, notwithstanding the stress, President George W. Bush was in bed by 10 o’clock every night and slept like a baby.  “I sleep like a baby, too,” Powell replied.  “Every two hours I wake up screaming!” Ronald Reagan insisted on taking a nap every afternoon.  Even so, he was so sleepy that he nearly overslept his own presidential inauguration.  On one occasion, he did in fact drop off at an awkward moment ... in an audience with Pope St. John Paul II.
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From The Sermons.com

There's a true story that comes from the sinking of the Titanic. A frightened woman found her place in a lifeboat that was about to be lowered into the raging North Atlantic. She suddenly thought of something she needed, so she asked permission to return to her stateroom before they cast off. She was granted three minutes or they would leave without her.

She ran across the deck that was already slanted at a dangerous angle. She raced through the gambling room with all the money that had rolled to one side, ankle deep. She came to her stateroom and quickly pushed a side her diamond rings and expensive bracelets and necklaces as she reached to the shelf above her bed and grabbed three small oranges. She quickly found her way back to the lifeboat and got in.

Now that seems incredible because thirty minutes earlier she would not have chosen a crate of oranges over the smallest diamond. But death had boarded the Titanic. One blast of its awful breath had transformed all values. Instantaneously, priceless things had become worthless. Worthless things had become priceless. And in that moment she preferred three small oranges to a crate of diamonds.

There are events in life, which have the power to transform the way we look at the world. Jesus' parable about the ten virgins offers one of these types of events, for the parable is about the Second Coming of Christ. But Jesus doesn't come right out and say this. Rather, he lets the story describe it for him. The woman on the sinking Titanic understood, in the light of her current circumstances, that she must make preparations for living on a lifeboat. Diamonds would not suffice, only the precious resources of an orange were good enough. Likewise, in this world where Christ may return at any moment, the parable warns, we must be ready.... 


Some literature students at the University of Chicago once asked Ernest Hemingway what hidden meanings were in his stories. He merely shrugged and said he didn't know of any and that they could make of his stories whatever they wanted.

 Biblical scholars seem to have a similar attitude toward the story Jesus told about ten bridesmaids who went out to meet a bridegroom. Five of the maidens neglected to bring extra oil for their lamps; they are called the foolish maidens. Five remembered to bring extra oil; they are the wise maidens. The bridegroom is delayed and all the bridesmaids fall asleep. When a crier proclaims that the bridegroom has arrived, all ten bridesmaids wake up and rush to their lamps. During the long night the lamps had run out of oil. This was no problem to those who had thought to bring extra oil. Those who had not brought extra oil tried to borrow from those who had. They were denied and had to run to the stores to try to find a merchant who would open up and sell them oil. Meanwhile, the bridegroom arrived and the parable ends with those who are prepared going into the feast. The door was closed and those not prepared were left outside.
 
Some see this as a message of warning by Jesus to the Jews of his day who should have been prepared for his coming but were not. Others see it as a parable of Jesus that was reworked by Matthew to be used in the conflict between first-century Christians and hostile Jews. Still others see it as a reference by Jesus to his second coming, at which time those who are ready will join Jesus and those who are not ready will be shut out. While any or all of these interpretations may be correct, we need to remember that a parable makes one point. We do not need to make it into an allegory in which every person and every action stands for a particular person or situation. It is more important to apply this parable to ourselves than to limit its application to people in the past or the future.
 

The first thing this parable says to me is that whatever you want to do or to be, there is a need to prepare.
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It was the day after Thanksgiving. A woman caught her husband weighing himself on the scale. He was sucking in his stomach.
 
"That won't help you, Fred," the woman said. "You know that, don't you?"
 "Oh it helps a lot," said Fred. "It's the only way I can see the numbers!"
 
I hope you're ready for Thanksgiving--and not just for the turkey and all the trimmings. Giving thanks is important to a successful life. A growing body of research is indicating that a sense of gratitude is vital if we are to be happy and whole persons. Of course, different people are thankful for different things.
 
One mom was outside one morning shoveling her driveway. She stopped to wave hello to her neighbor. He asked her why her husband wasn't out there helping her with the chore.
 
She explained that one of them had to stay inside to take care of the children, so they drew straws to see who would go out and shovel.
 
"Sorry about your bad luck," the neighbor said.
 The woman looked up from her shoveling and said, "Don't be sorry. I won!"
 Those of you who are parents of young children understand.
 We are thankful for different things. For some men, Thanksgiving is all about football.
 
You remember what Erma Bombeck said about Thanksgiving. She said, "Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are consumed in twelve minutes." Then she added, "Half-times take twelve minutes. This is not a coincidence."
 
If I were to choose a text that is probably the classic text for Thanksgiving Day, it would be our Old Testament reading for today from the book of Deuteronomy. Moses is addressing the Children of Israel in the wilderness. They are between the exodus from Egypt and their entrance into the Promised Land. That is the setting in which Moses speaks these words that are just as apropos for you and me as they were for Israel 3000 years ago...