21st Week, Friday, Aug 28

1 Cor 1:17-25 / Matthew 25:1-13
Paul talks about Christ’s crucifixion: It was nonsense to the Gentiles.
The English poet Rudyard Kipling wrote a poem called “Cold Iron.” It’s about a baron who rebels against his king and tries to overthrow him. The king’s army engages the baron’s army, defeats it, and takes the baron prisoner.
When the baron is brought before the king, everyone expects him to be severely punished and then executed. To everyone’s consternation, the king responds in a totally different way. Instead of punishing and executing the baron, the king treats him kindly, sets before him a table, and serves him bread and wine. The symbolism of the poem is obvious. It also helps us understand better the “folly” of God’s wisdom.
Paul knows that the Christians of Corinth are not only divided in their loyalties but are also influenced by the Greek tendency to philosophize about everything. They would think ordinarily that “Power and wisdom” are the two essential qualities of God. These he shows in creation. "I believe in God the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth". In creation we see God's power and wisdom the clearest. "Not so": says Paul. Not in creation but in the Cross. We think we see His weakness and folly in the Cross. Delivered into the hands of men, he became the plaything of their cruel power. This weakness is God's folly. God wants to be the saviour. The Cross was God's power to save. In no other way could he do that better. That was his wisdom. In creation, God did manifest himself. The greatest manifestation of God is the Cross. There he manifested not only his power and wisdom but his love. God is love. The Cross is the greatest paradox. "For God's foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God's weakness is stronger than human strength " (verse 25). 
Christ is the power and wisdom of God. This is Paul’s teaching today, and yet he admits its human irony. A crucified God flies in the face of human expectations. The Jews looked for convincing signs, and the Greeks, in their philosophical bent, looked for wisdom. Jesus on the cross looked unconvincing on both counts. The sign was only one of weakness to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentile. But in fact, the outcome was just the opposite. To those who are being saved, there is power in the cross and wisdom in a God who is willing to die to save us.
How do we treat people who hurt us? “God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom 1 Corinthians 1:25
Gospel Reflection: When the bridegroom leaves the parents' house on horseback to fetch the bride, his brothers, relatives and friends try to hold him so that he is often delayed. Weddings start anyhow only after dark. At the bride's home, they eagerly await him to give him a festive welcome. The girls add brilliance by receiving him with burning lamps, gracefully dancing as they lead him to the house. Three details attract our attention. Some of the maidens are called foolish, It is foolishness not to be ready. It foolish to have a lamp that gives no light. When the bridegroom comes, they hear the sound of revel and mirth. They see the light of the procession and cannot join it for the last stretch. Both slept: the wise and the foolish. They want to light the lamps, but have no oil. The shining, light that honours the coming of the bridegroom are the good works, grace giving good deeds. 

To be late for an appointment is rather careless, to say the least. To be late could mean that we don't really take care to be early for the appointment, or at least to be there on time.

And it may also mean that we don't take much into consideration how the other party feels about having to wait for us if we are late through our own fault.

More so if we have an appointment with someone of importance. All the more we will want to make sure that we will be ready and early for the appointment.

In the gospel parable, it was the bridegroom who was late. But it was the duty of the ten bridesmaids to wait for him.

The wise ones were careful to be prepared with extra oil for their lamps. The foolish and careless ones didn't consider the unexpected circumstance that the bridegroom would be late.

So to be wise is to be careful and to be ready for the unexpected. To be foolish is to be careless and not be bothered about unexpected situations. But whether wise or foolish, there are consequences for better or for worse, as the gospel parable tells us.

But to wise is not just about being careful and ready for whatever situations. As St. Paul puts it in the 1st reading, wisdom is about understanding the cross as God's power to save.

The cross may look like foolishness, to the Jews an obstacle they cannot get over, to the Greeks madness, but to those who are called to faith, it is the power and wisdom of God. It is not too late for us to understand the meaning of the cross, the power and wisdom that God grants through it, so that we will be careful and ready to meet the challenges of life.

Let us Pray:
Lord our God, source of all wisdom, you invite us to be wise and to encounter your Son with burning lamps in our hands. Help us to be prepared to meet him in the events of daily life and in people around us, that we may enter with him into your feast that lasts forever. In Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen. God bless.