“We Proclaim Prudence”
November 8, 2020
32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Bishop Ariel P. Santos
Matthew 25 about the parable of the ten virgins is not about the end of world. The kingdom of God is here on earth. It will not be; it is here now. The gospel is good news which is why St. Paul in 1Thessalonians concluded the reading today by saying, “Comfort each other with these words.”
Jesus was warning the Israelites about an impending event, a disaster that was about to happen to them because of their stubbornness. It happened before the existing generation of Jesus. In 70AD, the Romans ransacked Jerusalem and Jesus’ prophecy was fulfilled that not one stone will be left on top of another because God’s people, Jerusalem, would not recognize the day of their visitation. It wasn’t God’s judgment, but the result of their disobedience.
God doesn’t punish us. We punish ourselves with our sins and the consequences of it. In Matthew 23:37-38, Jesus said, "O Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate!" In Luke 19, Jesus adds, "Enemies will hem and level you and your children to the ground (and will not leave one stone upon another).” Jesus did not say this angry but weeping. There comes a point when with Divine consent, there are consequences to be paid. In the story of the prodigal son, the father had to let go of him, and he stood back weeping watching his beloved son ruin his life. He had to wait for his son to come to his senses after which he smothers him with love, with hugs and kisses. This is our Father.
The disciples asked Jesus, “When will these things happen?” We pray, “Jesus, let Your kingdom come.” 1Thessalonians 4 doesn’t talk about the rapture. We are not evacuating this earth but occupying and filling it with the kingdom of heaven and its culture. This earth is our inheritance. The meek will inherit the earth. We are not leaving to go to heaven; heaven is coming here. Until then, we need to be steadfast and faithful.
In the parable, the virgins symbolized the professing believers, the Christians. They were waiting for the bridegroom. They had oil and they had fire. Prudence is having lamps that keep burning not for a while but continuous. Wisdom is keeping our fire burning until Jesus comes. Foolishness is having lamps that go out after a while. Professing to have steadfastness doesn’t necessarily mean that we are possessing it. We should not run out of oil, and oil is the steadfast obedience to Jesus’ words.
In Matthew 7, Jesus taught on the Sermon of the Mount about meekness, righteousness, mercy pure heart and peace. He taught about the following: not calling a brother “Raca”, not lusting after a woman, divorce, offering the other cheek, giving a shirt, going the extra mile, loving our enemies, praying for the persecutors, giving to the needy without ostentation, forgiving, not being lovers of money and seeking first the kingdom of God.
Jesus concluded His sermon by saying, “Therefore, everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them may be compared to a wise man who built his house on d rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell and great was its fall." Wisdom is hearing the words of the Lord and acting on them and this makes us strong and steadfast. Foolishness is hearing the words of the Lord and not acting on them.
We proclaim His death until He comes, but what is death or what does death symbolize? Greater love has no one than this that we lay down our lives for others. In 1 Thessalonians 4, it says that we who are alive and remain (living a godly life, steadfast and abiding) will be the ones who will meet the Lord when He comes. We will occupy until He comes. In TLB of Amos 4, God said, “I want to see mighty flood of justice, a torrent of doing good." Torrent is synonymous to streaming meaning continuous. Doing good should be continuous. God is watching our stream and He who endures to the end will be saved.
Psalm 133 says, “Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together.” They are to dwell together in Zion, and for how long? How long should we be in Zion? Forever! God said, “Here I proclaim My blessings which is life forever.” We remain steadfast not just for one day but for eternity. It is not just in good times but it is when the chips are down, when reality bites us.
In Matthew 24:45-51, Jesus said, "Who then is the faithful and the sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But if that evil slave says in his heart, ‘My master is not coming for a long time,’ and begins to beat his fellow slaves and eat and drink with drunkards; the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour which he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Verse 45 says, “Who is the faithful and sensible servant? He whom his master finds faithfully doing His will when he comes.” The faithful slave is the one who gives food to his fellow slaves because he was given the ability to do so. In the Bible, food is usually equivalent to bread. In this verse, food is referred to as meat. Malachi 3:10 says to bring full tithe in storehouse so there is "food" or “meat" in God’s house. Why do we bring “meat” to the storehouse? So that there will be “meat” for our fellow servants, for our brothers. He who is faithful provides for his fellow servants. Blessed is the servant who does so until Jesus comes – continuous and steadfast – doing good works for others, our offerings, loving our brothers even our enemies.
I am giving you an accurate prophecy of the coming of Jesus. Jesus Christ is coming soon, actually in a few minutes – receiving Him in the Eucharist and even in our midst. Later, it will be the person that we meet who is needy, the person that we are annoyed with or a brother or a sister that irritates us. They may be struggling, and Jesus is present in them, and Jesus wants us to love the Jesus’ in them. Christ is alive in everyone! Love them and prove yourself to be wise.
Remain steadfast, keep our lamps burning until the bridegroom comes. Jesus will come with power and great glory. Sometimes, we miss His coming because our idea of power and glory is thunder and lightning, but Jesus can come in a still small voice – the Eucharist or a person in need of help.
Let us be prepared. Keep our lamps burning and be steadfast for this is the way it is in the kingdom of our God.