I was listening to her as she expressed concern for her children whom she believed were not very well prepared for life. These children were approaching college age and in her opinion lacked motivation to study for exams, to be concerned about their choice of friends and had an attitude that life was to be lived in the moment because according to them they had plenty of time to “settle down” and become boring like her.
She was looking for advice, some kind of instant action that would help her get their attention to open their eyes that to be prepared for life does not come by waiting but by doing the right things now. It seems to me that was one of the lessons of life our children learned from a child’s story about the tortoise and the hare which was one of those hidden gems teaching our children to be steadfast, diligent and always working toward a goal rather than resting on one’s laurels.
That attitude of her daughters is not just a teen problem as it is also prevalent in adults. In fact, it is a constant battle we fight with those who believe in God and attend church and those who believe in God but do not attend church. The issue is that both of those groups of people see themselves as good people so all is well with them. Is it good enough to just be good and follow the laws of God and man? According to God’s desire for us we are to love him with our whole heart, mind, strength and soul so it is not enough just to be good people? So it begs the question, what is our measure of what it means to be good and what is God’s standard of good? We know the standard and yet we ourselves tend to put off our living according to that standard.
Just being good is a lie if we are going to be children of God. That was exactly the lament of that woman as she sought counsel. Her standard was much higher than the standard her children believes satisfied all the standards their mother set. We have the same problem where we believe that if we just follow the rules of decency, of honesty, of integrity, help those less fortunate and we are not liars, cheats, adulterers, murderers or thieves then we have met the standard of God.
You know it before I say it; that is pure foolishness. Why would we ever believe that God who chastised the Pharisees for their strict adherence to the law would be happy with our doing the same thing? Did you not listen to the gospel message last week or was being in church one of those good enough tasks that we can check off as done and pat ourselves on the back for meeting the standard of being a good Catholic.
Today God is giving us a contrast between wisdom and foolishness. God tells us in our first reading that Wisdom is the perfection of prudence. Now here is a word that would apply to us if we ever took the time to reflect on what God desires from us – prudence or I would prefer to say common sense. God has gifted us with this wonderful gift of common sense and if we would ever apply it to our faith we might begin to realize some things that would help us live our faith as disciples rather than just practicing our faith.
Some of those ladies in our gospel used their common sense to realize that their task was to be ready when their master needed them and for that they had to do two things. They had to be alert to recognize him when he came and they needed to be equipped with enough oil to keep the fires in their lamps burning so they could light the way to the place he was going. Unfortunately, half of them had no common sense believing they had all they needed and if more was needed they would be able to use their status as equal to the others to obtain what they needed to greet their master.
There is more here than just a parable of being ready for we do not know when our day is coming or the Lord will end it all. We can and some do search the scriptures for some indication of when it will all come to an end. Our task is not to speculate but to be ready but within this parable there is a message that we must be seeking the master and do everything necessary to recognize him.
The message of our need to encounter Christ and do as Peter did and acknowledge him as the Messiah is seen throughout the scriptures. The call to follow Jesus demands of us more than just to be good people. Good people surround us every day and we are called to be different; we are called to be light and in all we do acknowledge him as Lord. How can we do that unless we are filled with the oil of the Spirit burning within us? The same Spirit who fired up the disciples on Pentecost will also make our hearts burn within us.
We need to do what every disciple and follower of Jesus did and that is to invite the transforming power of the Holy Spirit to change our hearts and to gift us with wisdom and prudence. When that happens we will be more than good people. We will be given the courage and wisdom to become bearers of the light of Christ revealing the truth of the gospel to those who are good and to those who are evil.
Come Holy Spirit come rest upon us and with the fire of your love.