32 Sunday A - 10 Virgins

Fr. Jude Boteho:

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 five wise and five 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’

Fr. Tony Kadavil:

1) “Be prepared” and “Don’t run out of gas.”:

One thing that all Scouts, young and old, never forget is the Boy Scout Motto: "Be prepared." If you’ve ever set up a tent and didn’t tie your lines securely, you know what happens when the wind and rain hits! A tent collapse in the middle of the night is a rude awakening! Or, if you get a brand-new pair of hiking boots and don’t properly break them in, then go on a ten-mile hike, it’s pretty painful! You might forget bug-spray during mosquito season. Or if you bring a flashlight on a campout, but not extra batteries; that can make it somewhat challenging finding the latrine in the middle of the night! We sometimes learn the hard way to anticipate our needs. We need to plan ahead, before it’s too late. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark! Through the parable of the ten virgins, Jesus warns us to be ever prepared for the end of our lives.  How many of you have ever run out of gas? In most audiences, this would be nearly everyone. I cannot verify these statistics, so I caution you that they may be flawed. It would appear that every year at least a half million people call for help because they have run out of gas. Besides flat tires, dead batteries, and misplaced keys, running out of gas ranks right up there in the reasons why people call for roadside service. One might understand this happening a generation ago, when gas gauges were not entirely accurate, and when all the warning lights of our day were non-existent. But now we have warning messages that our fuel is running low (giving us perhaps an hour more of driving), and then additional, progressively urgent warnings indicating just how many estimated miles of driving we have left. One must say that most people who run out of fuel are “without excuse.”

2) Forgetting the parachute:  
In April, 1988 the evening news reported the sad story of a photographer who was also a skydiver.  He had jumped from a plane along with several other skydivers and filmed the group as they individually dove out of the plane and opened their parachutes.  As the video was being shown of each member of the crew jumping out and then pulling their rip chord so that their parachute opened to the wind, the final skydiver opened his chute and then the picture went out of control.  The announcer reported that the cameraman had fallen to his death, having jumped out of the plane without a parachute.  It wasn’t until he reached for the ripcord that he realized he was in free fall, taking pictures without a parachute.  Tragically he was unprepared for the jump.  It did not matter how many times he had done it before or what skill he had.  By forgetting the parachute, he made a foolish and deadly mistake.  Nothing could save him, because his Faith was in a parachute which he had never taken the trouble to buckle on.  It is a story not unlike the parable which Jesus tells about the foolish bridesmaids forgetting to bring something very important and necessary
3) "What's your purpose in life, Bob?"
Josh McDowell tells about an executive "head-hunter" (recruiter) who goes out and hires corporation executives for large firms. This recruiter once told McDowell that when he gets an executive that he's trying to hire for someone else, he likes to disarm him. "I offer him a drink," said the recruiter, "take my coat off, then my vest, 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," said the recruiter, "how top executives fall apart at that question." Then he told about interviewing one fellow recently. He had him all disarmed, had his feet up on his desk, talking about football. Then the recruiter leaned over and said, "What's your purpose in life, Bob?" And the executive who was being recruited said, without blinking an eye, "To go to Heaven and take as many people with me as I can." "For the first time in my career," said the recruiter, "I was speechless." [Stories For the Heart, compiled by Alice Gray (Sisters, Oregon: Multnomah Books, 1996), p. 112.] No wonder -- he had encountered someone who was really prepared! In today’s Gospel parable of the ten virgins Jesus warns us to be ever prepared to meet God our Creator at the end of our lives to give an account of how we have lived. ( 21 additional anecdotes are uploaded in our website: .
4) A tour group was riding in an elevator to the top of the Empire State Building. 

At about the 102nd floor, a woman asked the tour guide, “If the cables on this elevator break, do we go up or down?”  The tour guide answered, “Well, that depends on how you are living.”  

5) A   Sunday school teacher
was testing the children in her class one morning to see if they understood the concept of "getting to Heaven."   She said, "If I sold my house and my car, held a big garage sale and gave all my money to the Church, would that get me into Heaven?"
"NO!" the children answered.
"If I cleaned the Church every day, mowed the yard, and kept everything neat and tidy, would that get me into Heaven?"
Again, the answer was, "NO!" 
"Well, then, if I was kind to animals, gave candy to children and loved my husband, would that get me into Heaven?"
Again, they all answered, "NO!" 
“Well," the teacher continued, “how do I get into Heaven?"
A five-year-old boy shouted out, "YOU GOTTA BE DEAD." 
6) When Bishop Philip Brooks,
 author of “O, Little Town of Bethlehem,” was seriously ill, he requested that none of his friends come to see him.  But when an acquaintance of his named Robert Ingersoll, the famous anti-Christian propagandist, came to see him, Brooks allowed him to enter his room.  Ingersoll said, “I appreciate this very much, especially when you aren’t letting any of your close friends see you.”  Bishop Brooks responded, “Oh, I’m confident of seeing them in the next world, but this may be my last chance to see you.” 
7) Hibernation in the White House: 
Do you recall Laura Bush’s comments a few years ago about her husband?  She said, “George always says he’s delighted to come to these press dinners.  Baloney.  He’s usually in bed by now.  I’m not kidding.  I said to him the other day, ‘George, if you really want to end tyranny in the world, you’re going to have to stay up later.’  I am married to the president of the United States, and here’s our typical evening: Nine o’clock, Mr. Excitement here is sound asleep, and I’m watching “Desperate Housewives” on television. One day in February 2003, with America on the verge of a war with Iraq, Secretary of State Colin Powell was reminded that, notwithstanding the stress, President George W. Bush was in bed by 10 o’clock every night and slept like a baby.  “I sleep like a baby, too,” Powell replied.  “Every two hours I wake up screaming!” Ronald Reagan insisted on taking a nap every afternoon.  Even so, he was so sleepy that he nearly overslept his own presidential inauguration.  On one occasion, he did in fact drop off at an awkward moment ... in an audience with Pope St. John Paul II.
From The

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.... 

Some literature students at the University of Chicago once asked Ernest Hemingway what hidden meanings were in his stories. He merely shrugged and said he didn't know of any and that they could make of his stories whatever they wanted.

 Biblical scholars seem to have a similar attitude toward the story Jesus told about ten bridesmaids who went out to meet a bridegroom. Five of the maidens neglected to bring extra oil for their lamps; they are called the foolish maidens. Five remembered to bring extra oil; they are the wise maidens. The bridegroom is delayed and all the bridesmaids fall asleep. When a crier proclaims that the bridegroom has arrived, all ten bridesmaids wake up and rush to their lamps. During the long night the lamps had run out of oil. This was no problem to those who had thought to bring extra oil. Those who had not brought extra oil tried to borrow from those who had. They were denied and had to run to the stores to try to find a merchant who would open up and sell them oil. Meanwhile, the bridegroom arrived and the parable ends with those who are prepared going into the feast. The door was closed and those not prepared were left outside.
Some see this as a message of warning by Jesus to the Jews of his day who should have been prepared for his coming but were not. Others see it as a parable of Jesus that was reworked by Matthew to be used in the conflict between first-century Christians and hostile Jews. Still others see it as a reference by Jesus to his second coming, at which time those who are ready will join Jesus and those who are not ready will be shut out. While any or all of these interpretations may be correct, we need to remember that a parable makes one point. We do not need to make it into an allegory in which every person and every action stands for a particular person or situation. It is more important to apply this parable to ourselves than to limit its application to people in the past or the future.

The first thing this parable says to me is that whatever you want to do or to be, there is a need to prepare.
It was the day after Thanksgiving. A woman caught her husband weighing himself on the scale. He was sucking in his stomach.
"That won't help you, Fred," the woman said. "You know that, don't you?"
 "Oh it helps a lot," said Fred. "It's the only way I can see the numbers!"
I hope you're ready for Thanksgiving--and not just for the turkey and all the trimmings. Giving thanks is important to a successful life. A growing body of research is indicating that a sense of gratitude is vital if we are to be happy and whole persons. Of course, different people are thankful for different things.
One mom was outside one morning shoveling her driveway. She stopped to wave hello to her neighbor. He asked her why her husband wasn't out there helping her with the chore.
She explained that one of them had to stay inside to take care of the children, so they drew straws to see who would go out and shovel.
"Sorry about your bad luck," the neighbor said.
 The woman looked up from her shoveling and said, "Don't be sorry. I won!"
 Those of you who are parents of young children understand.
 We are thankful for different things. For some men, Thanksgiving is all about football.
You remember what Erma Bombeck said about Thanksgiving. She said, "Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are consumed in twelve minutes." Then she added, "Half-times take twelve minutes. This is not a coincidence."
If I were to choose a text that is probably the classic text for Thanksgiving Day, it would be our Old Testament reading for today from the book of Deuteronomy. Moses is addressing the Children of Israel in the wilderness. They are between the exodus from Egypt and their entrance into the Promised Land. That is the setting in which Moses speaks these words that are just as apropos for you and me as they were for Israel 3000 years ago...