One Monk of the Order of Saint Benedict

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The Word of God and the Body of God reveal each other -- the homily worships both.

September 01, 2006

For Friday of the Twenty-First Ordinary Week of the Church Year

Matthew 25:1-13

Apart from the religious festivals of Israel, weddings were their biggest celebrations— and they always lasted for several days.
Our Lord made use of that fact in his life, his teaching and his mission.
It was at a wedding feast that he gained the faith of his first disciples, worked his first public miracle and gave a sign of things already present and things to come.
Later, telling why he did not have his disciples fast, he likened the joy of his own presence to a wedding.
Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them?
As long as they have the bridegroom with them,
they cannot fast. [Mk. 2:19]

In another parable, different from that in his Gospel today, he compared the kingdom of heaven to a royal wedding feast of a king’s son.
Then, in the last book of the New Testament, revelation and salvation meet fulfillment as an angel proclaims, “Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb.”
A bride in the days of Christ spent many days in preparation before the wedding festival.
On the appointed day, the bridegroom, his chosen “best men” and his family marched in pomp and splendor, with music and song, to the home of the bride to escort her with a triumphal procession back to his own house.
Then came several days of feasting.
Today the Lord tells a story about five foolish and five wise maidens waiting for a bridegroom from far off to arrive and claim his bride.
With this parable, the Lord is in the middle of a longer lesson on the end of the world and the final coming of God’s kingdom.
The kingdom comes to us in many ways.
It comes to us— it is available for us— through the presence of the Lord in his grace, the power of his Spirit in us and in the sacraments.
The kingdom also meets each of us whenever we freely offer ourselves in obedience to the promptings of the Spirit.
The kingdom also calls and waits for each us from the other side of our individual deaths.
Finally, this kingdom of the Father and of our Lord Jesus Christ will bring with it the end of time.
It will bring on the beginning of new heavens and a new earth with the unending wedding supper of the Lamb of God.
However, as the Lord tells us in his parable today, the kingdom of heaven offers us not only promises.
There is also a threat.
We could be shut out of the kingdom.
There could come a time when the kingdom of heaven would say to us, “Too late for you!”
Then the Lord would say to us what he says in his lesson today, “Truly, I do not know you.”
So, he tells us to watch out for him constantly, to be alert, prepared, because the kingdom of heaven keeps days and hours that are not for us to know.
His example today of the five wise maidens ready and waiting for the bridegroom makes it clear that Christian watchfulness is not a dreading of danger to come, but an expectation of joyous celebration.
The Lamb of God takes away the sins of the world.
That is the mere beginning of the bliss and blessing for those who are called to the wedding feast of the Lamb.

That God Be Glorified in All


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