32 Sunday A and the Dedication of John Lateran Basilica

1. From Fr. Tony Kadavil's Collection:

a. Never argue with him when he's drunk!"
A man was driving without his seatbelt when he spotted a patrol car right behind him. He grabbed for the belt and put it on. But it was too late, and the red and blue lights began to flash. 

"You weren't wearing your seatbelt," said the officer. 
"Yes I was," said the man, "and if you don't believe me, ask my wife." 
"So how ABOUT it, ma'am?" asked the cop. 
"Officer," she said, "I've been married to this man for forty years, and there's one thing I've learned: Never argue with him when he's drunk! Just give him a ticket for not wearing the seat belt.”

In today’s Gospel, Jesus doesn’t bother to argue with the unjust merchants and money changers who have converted the Temple in Jerusalem into a noisy “market place” and a “den of thieves.” Instead, he frightens them with his angry order and chases them away, holding a whip in his hands. 

 b. Elephantine massage therapy:
The story has been told of a lion king that was very proud. He decided to take a walk one day to demonstrate his mastery over all the other creatures.  He strutted his way through the forest until he came across a bear, “Who is the king of the jungle, bear?”  “Why of course you are, mighty lion,” the bear said.  He went on until he found the tiger, “Who is the king of the jungle, tiger?”  “Why you are, great lion,” the tiger replied with reverence.  Next the lion found the elephant, “Who is the king of the jungle, elephant?”  The elephant instantly grabbed the lion with his trunk and spun him around a few times and slammed him to the ground.  He then stepped on him a few times and picked him up and dunked him in the water and then threw him up against a tree.  The lion staggered to his feet and said, “Look, just because you don’t know the answer, there is no reason to get so upset!” The lion was the one who wasn’t getting it.  He missed the truth just as did many of the scribes and Pharisees and Jewish priests, to whom Jesus gave an elephantine shock treatment with prophetic courage, zeal and righteous indignation as described in today’s Gospel.  

c. You may hiss at people, but don’t bite:
The story of Jesus cleansing the Temple with a whip reminds us of the old eastern story about a snake that lived in a hole on a forest path leading to a famous Hindu temple in India.  Many pilgrims would walk along the path to the pilgrimage center, and the snake would often bite people with his poisonous bite if they walked over its residence.  One time a Hindu hermit (sannyasi) was on his way to the temple and the snake jumped out to bite him, but before the snake could strike, the hermit put the snake into a trance and ordered him to stop biting people.  "It is not right to bite pilgrims with your poisonous bite," the hermit told him.  "From now on, you shall not bite anyone."  A few months later the sannyasi was passing that way again, and he noticed the snake lying in the grass beside the path.  The snake was all cut and bruised and was in an awful state.  "Whatever has happened to you, my friend?" the hermit asked.  "Since you have put your spell on me," the snake explained, “I have been unable to defend myself.  Give me back my bite."  "You foolish snake," the sannyasi answered.  "I told you not to bite anyone.  But I never said that you couldn't hiss and frighten trespassers!" In today's Gospel reading we see an angry Jesus boiling with moral indignation. If Jesus did not bite in this episode, he surely hissed, and the question we should ask about this passage is why?  He was angry that the Temple - a place of worship – was being turned into a marketplace of noise and unjust commerce; angry that the money-changers had turned a holy obligation into a lucrative profession; angry that the animals meant for sacrifices for the expiation of sins were converted into tools for unjust profit. 

2.     From Fr. Jude Botelho: 32 Sunday A 

The first reading from the Book of Wisdom personifies wisdom, as Lady Wisdom, who is to be found by all who seek her. Through divine wisdom God communicates to mankind the meaning of life and living. What we need most in life is wisdom; when we have found God we become truly wise since He guides our every step. True wisdom in a person is that quality that shows that one is truly in contact with God, and that He is, in a large measure, acting in one’s life. Wisdom can be said to be the inner light, given by God, which, is given only to those who thirst for it, seek it, love it and carefully nurture it when received.

The Parable of the Cave
Three wise men were encouraged to find what had been called the Cave of wisdom and life. They made careful preparations for what would be a challenging and arduous journey. When they reached the place of the cave, they noted a guard at the entrance. They were not permitted to enter the cave until they had spoken to the guard. He had only one question for them, and he demanded that they answer only after talking it over with one another. He assured them that they would have a guide to lead them through the regions of the cave. His question was a simple one, “How far into the Cave of wisdom and life do you wish to go?” The three travelers took counsel together and returned to the guard. Their response was, “Oh, not very far. We just want to go far enough into the cave so that we can say that we have been there.” The reaction of the guard manifested none of his great disappointment as he summoned someone to lead the three seekers a short distance into the cave, and then watched them set out again after a very short time, set out to make the journey back into their own land.

Paula Ripple in ‘Walking with Loneliness’

In today’s Gospel Jesus tells a parable of the seven wise and seven foolish virgins to remind us that we should be awake and prepared for the coming of the Lord, because we do not know at what hour he will come. The virgins stand for people who are waiting for the coming of the Lord. To be wise is to be ready and prepared for any eventuality, for what might happen. Jewish wedding ceremonies were celebrated at night. The girls who formed the procession accompanied the groom to the house of the girl’s father. No time was set. Those who were prepared were welcomed, while the unprepared were left out. Their fault wasn’t to sleep but to be unprovided for their part in the torchlight procession. Missing the feast meant losing the kingdom. The virgins typify mankind in search of purpose. Some lack resolution, others are preoccupied with the distractions and trivialities while some stay focused on their ultimate purpose.

The kingdom of heaven is like…

The kingdom of heaven is like ten young people who wanted to hear a very popular pop group that was due to arrive in town. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. When the tickets went on sale the five wise ones queued up all night and duly secured their tickets. But the five foolish ones did not bother to queue up for them. On the night of the concert they went along nevertheless, thinking that they would be able to buy tickets at the door, or that they would meet someone who would get them in. Alas, when they got there, all the tickets were gone, and they were turned away at the door. They went away with a sad and empty feeling. –Most of us know that feeling. It’s not a pleasant feeling. Still we get over it. Usually, what’s at stake is not that important –a football match, or a concert, or some such thing. Life goes on; we survive and soon forget about it. But in Jesus’ story what is at stake in nothing less than our eternal salvation.
Flor McCarthy in ‘New Sunday & Holy Day Liturgies’

He wants the best for us

A columnist, Scott Bennett, tells the story of a man ‘Michael’, who was facing a series of devastating reversals in his life, leaving him desperate and defenseless. He had no job, his car had been repossessed, his marriage was ending, and his father had just died a month earlier. One night, in a frantic cry for help, Michael lifted up his face to the stars. And then the incredible happened. This is how he expressed it: “I felt I was one with…. call it God, call it creation… I don’t know. I do know I felt a peace that I have never known before or since. A power and a purpose was revealed to me that night that I cannot put in words. But I never doubted again that life is precious and has a purpose. –As Christians we are blessed with a faith that teaches us we have in God a compassionate father, whose thoughts are above ours as the heavens are above the earth. God who created us loves us, cares for us and will never cease pursuing what is best for us even if we fail out of human frailty. “What the caterpillar calls the end of the road, God calls a butterfly.”
James Valladares in ‘Your words, O Lord, Are Spirit, and They Are Life’

God comes to us in spite of ourselves!

A woman was at work when she received a phone call that her daughter was very sick with fever. She left her work and stopped by the pharmacy to pick up some medication for her daughter. On returning to her car she found that she had locked her keys in the car. She was in a hurry to get home to her sick daughter. She found a coat hanger there. Then she looked at the hanger and said, “I don’t know how to use this.” So she bowed her head and asked the Lord to send some help. A man got out of his car and asked her if he could help. “Please can you use this hanger to unlock my car?” she said. He said, “Sure.” He walked over to the car and in less than one minute, the car was opened. She hugged the man and through tears, she said, “Thank you so much! You are a very nice man.” The man replied, “Lady, I am not a nice man. I just got out of prison today. I was in prison for car theft and have only been out for about an hour.” The woman hugged the man again and with sobbing tears cried aloud, “Oh, Thank you God! You even sent me a professional!” –While we are all sinners, the Lord sees the good within us and keeps coming, knocking at the door of our hearts, encouraging us to come closer to him.

Tomi Thomas in ‘Spice up your homilies’

End-time or Beginning-time?

A wise monk was once playing in the fields when a friend asked him, “If God were to call you to himself right now, what would you do?” Without batting an eyelid the monk replied, “I’d continue playing here!” Blessed are those who live fully in the present, and fully prepared for any unforeseeable future. – On September 14, 2005, an Australian Jesuit colleague and friend Paddy Meagher, bade farewell to India after more than four decades of dedicated service here. He was suffering from melanoma (skin cancer) that has struck suddenly and spread over his face leaving lumps likely to affect his brain and throat. Bravely enduring his pain he said, “I know I’ll die soon and I’m prepared. Nonetheless, I’ll continue reading and writing until death comes!” Paddy died on January 5, 2006. For wise virgins like these, there is always oil in their lamps. And for many of the victims of earthquakes who call God Abba or Allah, what we see as end-time is more likely to be a beginning-time for the eternal wedding feast.

Francis Gonsalves in ‘Sunday Seeds for Daily Deeds’

Cared for the least of his people

There were some eyebrows raised when John XXIII was elected pope. He was in his seventies and there was no great hope that he was going to shake the Church. One of the first things he did, however, made people sit up and notice. He went in person to visit prisoners in one of Rome’s prisons. He met them as equals and chatted informally with each. He even disclosed that he himself had a relative in jail! The work and short pontificate of this man was going to open many doors, and set many prisoners free.

Jack McArdle in ‘And that’s the Gospel Truth’

Daily Vigilance

 The image of this Sunday is a group - community holding high, torches aflame with hope. Today’s readings provide our parish community with a fine opportunity to recognize our countless private and public acts of kindness to others that have burned brightly as torches of hope to others. Sunday Eucharist is a time to replenish our lamps. – One day Julie returned from school to find her pet guinea pig was missing. She rushed to her mother to ask about it. Her mother said, “I gave it away because you did not take care of it. “But I did take care of it,” she said. “Julie, I gave it away ten days ago!” – Our watchfulness should be a daily thing. Keep vigil of your marriage. A separation/divorce happens with each other’s knowledge –caused by non-vigilance. Keep vigil of your faith, Vigilance is needed in seeking God and one another.

John Pichappilly in ‘The Table of the Word’

May we make wise choices in our daily dealings inspired by God’s ever-present spirit!


There's a true story that comes from the sinking of the Titanic. A frightened woman found her place in a lifeboat that was about to be lowered into the raging North Atlantic. She suddenly thought of something she needed, so she asked permission to return to her stateroom before they cast off. She was granted three minutes or they would leave without her.

She ran across the deck that was already slanted at a dangerous angle. She raced through the gambling room with all the money that had rolled to one side, ankle deep. She came to her stateroom and quickly pushed a side her diamond rings and expensive bracelets and necklaces as she reached to the shelf above her bed and grabbed three small oranges. She quickly found her way back to the lifeboat and got in.

Now that seems incredible because thirty minutes earlier she would not have chosen a crate of oranges over the smallest diamond. But death had boarded the Titanic. One blast of its awful breath had transformed all values. Instantaneously, priceless things had become worthless. Worthless things had become priceless. And in that moment she preferred three small oranges to a crate of diamonds.

There are events in life, which have the power to transform the way we look at the world. Jesus' parable about the ten virgins offers one of these types of events, for the parable is about the Second Coming of Christ. But Jesus doesn't come right out and say this. Rather, he lets the story describe it for him. The woman on the sinking Titanic understood, in the light of her current circumstances, that she must make preparations for living on a lifeboat. Diamonds would not suffice, only the precious resources of an orange were good enough. Likewise, in this world where Christ may return at any moment, the parable warns, we must be ready...

Every year the National Audubon Society sponsors several regional and national "bird count" days. The next big event is scheduled for December 14. It's the famous "Christmas Bird Count." On these "bird count" days both professional ornithologists and back yard bird watchers intentionally observe, count, and identify the birds they see in their locale. Though not strictly a "scientific" survey, these "what's-in-my-back-yard" observations help scientists to get a general idea of what is happening with various bird populations. The shifts in population numbers, and the sightings of, or absence of, various species gives researchers an early "heads up" about the dynamics in bird populations and the possible environmental issues that might be affecting their success or stressing their survival.  

Bird-watchers, like "computer nerds," used to be among the most maligned, the most targeted and teased, in the world of scientific research. Stereotyped as gawky social clods wearing ugly shorts, pith helmets, and peering through giant binoculars, serious bird watchers were the ultimate odd ones out. Until.  

Until a bird watcher named Rachael Carson wrote an expose of an environmental disaster that was threatening our entire ecosystem. "Silent Spring," published in 1962, revealed the extent to which the unregulated use of chemical pesticides was toxic to the ecosystem, decimating whole populations of wildlife, impacting air and water quality, and directly related to the rise in illnesses linked to chemical exposures in human populations. Since birds variously live in the air, water, and land, and their diets vary from eating insects, fruits, seeds, berries, worms and grubs, they were the perfect target populations to keep an eye on in order to keep track of these environmental threats...
Faithful in Service 

The year was 1780. In New England there was an eerie dark day that frightened many people. At noon it was as dark as early night. The birds, as confused as the people, sang a final twilight song and fluttered off into the evening dusk. The cows came meandering home from the pasture and chickens came home to roost. Religious men fell on their knees and begged a final blessing before the end came. 

In Hartford, Connecticut the State Legislature was in session and someone moved adjournment thinking that the Day of Judgment had come. But then a legislator stood up and said, "I am against adjournment. The Day of Judgment either is approaching or it is not. If it is not, there is no cause for adjournment. If it is, I choose to be found doing my duty. I wish therefore candles to be brought." The legislature approved his request. Have you been faithful in your service to God and your fellow man.? If the bridegroom were to come would he find you at your post? 


 Unfinished Business

A mother wrote to Catholic Digest saying that one day when she was heading up the stairs with a basket containing the last load of folded clothes, herding her three little ones in front of her for bedtime, her eldest child, Peggy, who was then in kindergarten, picked that moment to begin one of those questions that seem to intrigue all children at some time. "Mommy," she asked, "If it were the end of the world, and everyone was getting ready to die..." The mother stopped, shifted the basket on her hip, and said an ultra-quick prayer for wisdom to answer this question. "Yes?" The mother prodded her daughter. The little girl finished her theological inquiry: "If the end of the world came, would you have to take your library books back?" That young lady did not want any unfinished business in her life.

How about you? Is there some unfinished business in your life that needs to be taken care of? Is there anything about which you would be embarrassed or ashamed if the bridegroom were to come today?

King Duncan, Collected Sermons, 

John Wesley was asked what he would do if he knew his Lord would return at that time the next day. He said in effect, "I would go to bed and go to sleep; wake up in the morning, and go on with my work, for I would want Him to find me doing what he had appointed." 

 The Snow Approaches 

I went to the hardware store the other day to buy a snow shovel, because we all were told about a storm coming that night. Needless to say, I was not alone. The hardware store was full of other last-minute shoppers looking to do the same thing. As I stood there in line with my shovel and my bag of salt, I thought about the parable of the ten maidens, which is our text this morning, and I thought about a new way to tell the story: Then the kingdom of heaven shall be compared to ten people who sat down one night to watch the evening news. Before long, the All-Wise, All-Knowing and Always Accurate Weatherman appeared on the TV set and spoke. 

"Behold," he said, "the first snow storm of the year approaches, so be prepared. At midnight, it shall be upon you and in the morning, there shall be whiteness on the ground which shall reach up to your knees. Thus says your weatherman." Five of the ten people were prepared, so they sat comfortably in their homes and watched the rest of the news. But the other five were not prepared. They had no shovels and they wondered where they had left their winter gloves. So, they jumped into their cars and raced to the store with money in hand, desperately hoping they could lay an offering upon the altar of the Cash Register and get a shovel in return. But behold, they were too late. The door to the store was locked. The gods of commerce would accept no more offerings until the morning. The five people went home and asked their neighbors, "Do you have a shovel I can borrow?" Their neighbors said, "No, I don't. I only have one and I'll be using it tomorrow. The snow approaches and you paid no attention to the day or the hour. You should have been prepared." 

Erskine White, Together In Christ, CSS Publishing Company
 Ninety Percent Chance of Tomorrow 

Some folks in Iowa read in the weather forecast column of their local newspaper sometime back that "there is a 90% chance of tomorrow." I personally hope that the chances are better than that. But who knows? Let's not be foolish. Let's be prepared.

King Duncan, Collected Sermons, 
 Show Up, Be Present, Be Yourself, Let Go. 

Eight words that can change your life. 

Cowboy culture is still dominated by the larger-than-life image projected by the greatest cowboy-actor of them all, John Wayne. The rough-and-tumble, heart-of-gold, good-guy character John Wayne perfected on-screen never failed to embody the qualities of honor, loyalty, bravery and commitment. 

John Wayne's cowboys didn't just look good. They were good. In the classic, "Rio Bravo," Wayne's character summed up the essence of his cowboy philosophy by declaring to a less-than-perfect sidekick "Just showing up doesn't get the job done!" 

Matthew's parable-allegory of the 10 bridesmaids seems to emphasize this same kind of message to his reader it takes more than good intentions to be a faithful member of the Christian community. In fact, being a disciple of Christ requires us to commit to eight crucial words. These eight words will direct the whole course of our lives if we take them seriously: 

Show Up, Be Present, Be Yourself, Let Go. 

Leonard Sweet,
 The Risks of Waiting

 In early 1874 an inventor named Elisha Gray transmitted a few musical notes over a telegraph wire. He thought to himself, "If I can send music, perhaps I could send the human voice." The New York Times reported predictions of a "talking telegraph" and the public began to grow eager for it.

 Just one year later Gray believed he had the answer. Tin-can like voice chambers connected by a wire in a liquid that could turn vibrations into signals is what came into his mind. But inexplicably, he did not put his idea on paper for two months. After finally making a sketch, he waited four more days before he went to the patent office.

 When he arrived, Mr. Gray was told that just two hours earlier a school teacher had come through that same door with his own sketch and had already applied for the patent. His name was Alexander graham bell. When you compared the sketches, the voice chambers, the wire, and the liquid everything was identical. The reason we know the name Alexander graham bell and until today, never heard the name Elisha gray is simply because one man seized the opportunity when he could. The other one waited until it was too late. 

James Merritt,
 What's Your Purpose in Life?

Josh McDowell tells about an executive "headhunter" who recruits corporate executives for large firms. This headhunter once told McDowell that when he interviews an executive, he likes to disarm him. "I offer him a drink," said the headhunter, "take off my coat, undo my tie, throw up my feet and talk about baseball, football, family, whatever, until he's all relaxed. Then, when I think I've got him relaxed, I lean over, look him square in the eye and say, 'What's your purpose in life?' It's amazing how top executives fall apart at that question." 

Then he told about interviewing one fellow recently...