Blessed are those called to the Supper of the Lamb
The Church, in her inspired wisdom, has given to the Church in these last few weeks before we enter into the Season of Advent a blatant reminder. To quote an old Crystal Lewis song,
PEOPLE GET READY, JESUS IS COMING
Are we listening? Are we preparing? Jesus is coming again in glory to usher in a New Heaven and New Earth. He will raise the dead. Our deaths also are coming.
Either way, we will not escape the Particular and Final Judgement of the Lamb. Heaven awaits the Saints. It is there they belong; those who have washed their garments in the Blood of the Lamb. There is a placed prepared in Heaven for us. Sadly, there is also a place in Hell prepared for us; a little bed of torture, as St. Catherine of Siena calls it, and it waits for us also. Which one we receive is dependent upon us and the Divine Mercy of God.
With that in mind, I wish to focus on a couple themes from this Sunday’s Gospel, read at all the Novus Ordo Masses in the world this weekend.
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew
Jesus told his disciples this parable:
“The kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins
who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.
Five of them were foolish and five were wise.
The foolish ones, when taking their lamps,
brought no oil with them,
but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps.
Since the bridegroom was long delayed,
they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
At midnight, there was a cry,‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’
Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps.
The foolish ones said to the wise,‘Give us some of your oil,
for our lamps are going out.’
But the wise ones replied,‘No, for there may not be enough for us and you.
Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’
While they went off to buy it,
the bridegroom came
and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him.
Then the door was locked.
Afterwards the other virgins came and said,
‘Lord, Lord, open the door for us!’
But he said in reply,
‘Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.’
Therefore, stay awake,
for you know neither the day nor the hour.”
After just being married this past summer, I find myself understanding wedding stories from personal experience. The thing that struck me in listening to this story was that Jesus likens the Kingdom to ten virgins – 5 wise and 5 foolish. Now what strikes me about this story is that the Bridegroom is coming to a Wedding Feast, but who and where is the Bride? Why is the Bridegroom having ten other women escort him to his wedding? That seemed weird to me. After researching this (thanks to Haydock) I found that in the Douay-Rheims and Vulgate texts, the Bride is also present with the Bridegroom when they show up late to the party. Isn’t that familiar? My Bride was also late for her Wedding. That’s pretty relatable. So the Bridegroom has now retrieved his bride and they are now coming to what was the conclusive part of the wedding ceremony. Local women, in the above parable it was 10 virgins, who are gathered from the local vicinity, come not to meet the Bridegroom, but in particular the Bride, and welcome her into the ceremony. This was a great honour to be asked to welcome the Bride into the final stage of her wedding. So when these 5 foolish virgins don’t show up to take their place, the Bridegroom ensures they are put in their place by refusing them entry to the Wedding Feast.
I think this is pretty clear, however I wish to relate this to that which is here and now – Our Blessed Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament. As the Church, we have been called to a very prominent place by the Most High – we are called each individually to be in union with Jesus Christ in the Sacrament of His Love. This is much more than carrying some oil lamps. This is the call! The Bridegroom comes! Jesus really, truly, and substantially present, comes to us in the Mass to nourish us with Himself. He’s come to be one with us. How many times have we by our distractions, misuse of time, poor attitudes, lack of preparations, being in a state of mortal sin, etc. been asleep when the Bridegroom comes to us in this Sacrament? We can get caught up in the music, or the fact we may be hungry (if we observe the fast), and allow every kind of distraction to detract from the central reality that we are now truly one with the Redeemer of all. If we are not preparing well when we know when the Bridegroom comes, how truly ready will we be when we “neither know the day nor the hour”?
Blessed are those called to the Wedding Feast of the Lamb. May we respond and allow the oil in our lamps to never run dry, for we remember the Bridegroom is always coming.
O Sacrament Most Holy, O Sacrament Divine
All praise and all thanksgiving be every moment Thine,
through the Immaculata.