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November 12, 2017 - The Wisdom of Intentional Living

Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

At every baptism, after the child is draped in white garment, the celebrant lights the baptismal candle from the Paschal candle, and hands it to the child with these words, “Receive the light of Christ.” And then the celebrant says to the parents and godparents: “Parents and godparents, this light is entrusted to you to be kept burning brightly. This child of yours has been enlightened by Christ. He (she) is to walk always as a child of the light. May he (she) keep the flame of faith alive in his (her) heart. When the Lord comes, may he (she) go out to meet him with all the saints in the heavenly kingdom.” These words are a direct reference to to parable of the ten wise and foolish maidens in today’s gospel reading. The symbolism of the lighted candle is simply this - that our baptism, at which we receive the new life of Christ, is an invitation to live that new life, wisely and not foolishly, with faith rather then faithlessly, in anticipation of Christ’s coming rather than aimlessly. Our baptism is a commitment to intentional living. 

I have titled this homily, “The Wisdom of Intentional Living.” Here are my three practical implications:

  1. Wisdom Comes to Our Aid. In the gospel reading, it was the wise maidens that welcomed the bridegroom. Catholics consider wisdom as one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Yet, scripture also tells us that wisdom must be sought. As today’s first reading from the book of Wisdom says, “She [wisdom] is readily perceived by those who love her, and found by those who seek her.” Where and how is wisdom to be sought? Wisdom waits to be discovered in scripture, in the life and message of Jesus, in the totality of human knowledge that the sages, mystics and enlightened have communicated to us. Wisdom also comes from life-experiences. People who seek wisdom read, reflect, and pray scripture regularly. People who seek wisdom strive to deepen their relationship with God as time goes by. People who seek wisdom pay attention to the lives of those who changed the course of human history, both good and bad. People who seek wisdom look for the deeper meaning of daily life-experiences. In reality, nothing is what is looks like. There is always a deeper reality in everything. People who seek wisdom look for the deeper reality of life. And to those who seek wisdom, she comes freely.
  1. How do I know Whether I am Wise or Not? In the parable of the ten maidens, what set apart the wise from the foolish was that they brought flasks of oil with them, just in case the bridegroom was delayed. This is what I am calling intentional living. They kept the big picture in mind. Wise people keep the big picture in mind. The practical implication for us is this - that we live life today keeping in mind our origin and our destiny. That is what I mean by “the wisdom of intentional living.” To live wisely and intentionally means that we never forget where we have come from, to whom we belong now, and where we are going. Foolishness is to live life as if only the present matters. To live with the consciousness of eternity makes us approach life with humility. Eternity makes us evaluate the meaning of life very differently. Eternity compels us not merely to be intelligent people but wise people.  
  1. Wise People Seek Christ in the Here and Now. Parable like the ones we have today, in reality was meant to deal with the issue of the delay of the Parousia. It is clear in the New Testament that Jesus and the early Christians believed in an imminent second coming. However, the ground reality was very different. People were beginning to get both concerned and careless because of the delay of the Parousia. Note that in the parable of the ten maidens, the wise and the foolish fell asleep. Two thousand years later, we join the early Christians in anticipation of the Parousia. Here is the irony of it all. The same Christ who we hope to meet at his Second Coming is also the same Christ who is present to us today. In the scriptures, in the sacraments, in this very Eucharist, in this gathering, in the person standing next to you, in the stranger we fail to accept and embrace, in the hungry, the thirsty, the naked and those in prison… Christ still comes to us. Perhaps we will be only as ready for Parousia as we are today. This is not the time to fall asleep. This is the time to let the light of faith burn in our hearts. This is the meaning of intentional living.

The Eucharist is the source of wisdom and provides us the grace off intentional living. Let us seek that wisdom and receive that grace.   

- Fr. Satish Joseph