November 12, 2023 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Welcome Father Bernward Today’s Readings: Wis 6:12-16 | 1 Thes 4:13-18 | Mt 25:1-13

####The kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.

[…] both Jesus and his New Testament interpreters are quite clear that the times and seasons of God’s future end-time activity are none of our business. Mark 13:32 should be enough to make that clear: “But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.” The verse that follows tells us where our concerns should be focused: “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come.”

All of which should help us appreciate the import of this Sunday’s Gospel. Regarding the end — be it one’s own death or the end of the world — the point is not the knowledge of when but the wisdom of readiness.

To hear clearly the parable of the wise and foolish “groomsmaids,” it helps to have in mind what Matthew’s readers would have known about Near Eastern marriage customs. […] The scenario appears to be the following. Since the wedding party would occur at the groom’s house (or that of his father), the young women are part of his entourage sent out to form a welcoming party as he brings his bride home. […] Having reached the welcoming point, the ten settle down to wait, get drowsy, and fall asleep. When a voice heralds the approach of the groom, and presumably the bride, five (called “foolish”) discover they are low on oil and run off to buy some. By the time the groom’s entourage, accompanied by the five wise virgins, join the full wedding party, the foolish ones find themselves locked out. Their shout of “Lord, Lord, open the door” is answered by the chilling response, “Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.”

The rest of Matthew’s Gospel tells us all we need to know to hear the meaning of this parable. Like the parables that frame it, the story symbolizes something about living life in view of the final coming of Christ and what it means to be ready for that moment of joy (to be wise), or deserve judgment (to be foolish).

And what precisely does it mean to be ready in the way symbolized by the wise possession of oil? The scenario here in this fifth and last speech in Matthew is fully anticipated in the first speech, the Sermon on the Mount. There too we hear of people, who had even prophesied and healed in Jesus’ name, shouting “Lord, Lord” and hearing Jesus say, “I never knew you.” As in the groomsmaids story, we hear of wise activity (building on rock) and foolish activity (building on sand). The speech leaves no doubt that wisdom here means hearing the word of Jesus and doing it, and foolishness is failing to do so. Having enough oil parallels building on rock (disciplining one’s anger, lust, and vengefulness, Mt 5), running the household responsibly (Mt 24:45), investing one’s talents fully (Mt 25:20-23), and doing the corporal works of mercy spelled out in the climax of this speech—feeding the hungry, quenching the thirsty, receiving the stranger, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned.

The parables about the parousia of Christ have nothing to say about calculating the end, but they have much to say about living in readiness. The deepest wisdom and fullest readiness, it turns out, is to live chastely, honestly, nonviolently (Mt 5). and to meet our neighbors’ basic needs (Mt 25). Place yourself among the five wise women with the full jugs of oil. When the Lord comes, join the party. Now place yourself among the five foolish ones with next to no oil. When you hear of the Lord’s arrival, dash to the mall to buy some, turn up at the party, and find yourself locked out. You have just done a meditation on heaven and hell. Reflect on what Matthew teaches regarding what it takes to live wisely.

Source of reflection: © 2001, Dennis Hamm, SJ, Source of image: JESUS MAFA. The Ten Young Women, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, [retrieved November 11, 2023]. Original source:


  • 12 November - Before Mass, the Parish Team is meeting in the sacristy, starting at 11:30. We would like to extend our invitation to join to everyone in our community who is interested in dealing with the organization of ICCH, its program and current issues!
  • 12 November - Sacrament of Reconciliation: Monthly opportunity for confessions after Mass.