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Nov 11, 2017 Written by  Rev. Fr. Paulino Twesigye Mondo

32nd Sunday in ordinary time “Year A” Be the first to comment!

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Theme: Waiting in hope

What is wisdom? What does it mean to be wise? These are the questions put before us today. In an attempt to find a fresh approach on this timeless topic, I decided to consult the mouths of babes where an eleven-year-old orphan replied: ‘Wisdom means ‘knowing a lot of something’. Then, I asked if there were a difference between being smart and being wise. After a few moments, the response was, ‘A smart person knows a lot of facts but a wise person has knowledge that comes from experience’. Then I put the same question to a catechumen who responded: ‘Wisdom means knowing right from wrong and making right choices’. When I asked again how a person gets wisdom, the reply was, ‘I guess you have to ask God’.

First reading: Wisdom 6:13-18

Although its correct title is the Book of the Wisdom of Solomon, in honor of Israel’s famed monarch, this book was not included in the Hebrew bible but survived only in Greek. Wisdom was written around year 60 B.C by an anonymous Greek speaking Jew residing in Alexandria. Founded by Alexander the Great in 331 B.C, Alexandria was made capital of Egypt by Ptolemy I, who also established a museum and library with an unrivalled four hundred thousand volumes. Ptolemy commissioned one hundred research scholars in the humanities and sciences who contributed toward making the city one of the most flourishing and influential centers of education. For Jews, living in the diaspora, Alexandria and its intellectual riches were particularly tempting to the extent of surrendering their Jewish tradition to foreign systems of thought. The Jews who had already been manipulated, Wisdom called them back to God while for Gentile, it pointed to the folly of idol worship. Wisdom invites all to grow in knowledge of God, live morally, behave and relate maturely.

What we have is an excerpt treating retribution. The other topics covered in this section deal with living justly, the ways of the wicked, judgment and seeking wisdom so as to live. Wisdom is personified as waiting at the city gates, to be discovered by those who rise early. It says, the most favorable time for prayer is at sunrise as soon as the first rays of the sun strike the mountains cf. Sirach 39:5. The city gates were the place set for commerce and discussion of law. Elders of the city gathered at the gates where they were consulted on a variety of topics; their opinions were respected and regarded as binding. Therefore praying for wisdom at dawn would result in her presence and governance concerning those decisions which gave shape and guidance to daily living.

In contrast to Greek philosophy which promoted search for wisdom as intellectual and calculated pursuit achieved by dint of sheer human effort, the author offers an image of wisdom as a divine gift that makes herself readily accessible by authentic seekers. For those who love her she is readily perceived; those who seek her have already found her. Wisdom/hokmah in Hebrew and sophia in Greek makes: 1- skilled artisans cf. Exodus 36:8; 2- grants capacity of the king to judge rightly cf.1 Kings 3:28; 3- gives ability of animals to adapt and survive, for example; ants which store their food and lizards that can find their way into royal palaces cf. Proverbs 30:24-28; and 4- grants capacity to cop well with exigencies of life. The goal of seeking wisdom is the good life, here and now, which is marked by length of days, prosperity and prestige.

Second reading: 1Thessalonians 4:13-18

What is resurrection and life after death? It means a life that bursts through the dimensions of space and time in God’s invisible, imperishable domain. This is what is meant by heaven, not the heaven of the astronauts, but God’s heaven. When Paul wrote to the Thessalonians in order to ease their concerns regarding those who died before Jesus’ Second Advent, he confirmed this affirmation of faith in eternal life. Eager anticipation of Jesus’ return in glory was rife among the early believers. Paul had preached convincingly of Jesus who died and rose for the redemption of humankind. Those who appropriated the good news were anxious to experience the fullness of union with Christ. But the second coming and all its blessings which were associated with it was not bursting through the dimensions of space and time as quickly as expected. Disappointment at the delay of the parousia was compounded by the fact that some members of the community had died. Those who loved them and mourned their passing worried that their hopes may have been misfounded. The prevailing pagan attitude toward death did little to improve the situation. St. Paul had to reject the false wisdom of the pagan world by instructing that “console one another with this message of triumph and hope, not resignation” 1Thessalonians 4:18. St. Paul insisted that without belief in the resurrection, every other belief is a vain and futile exercise cf. 1Corinthians 15. But, because Jesus is risen; everyone who believes in him, even those who die before his second coming, will live forever in him. Rather than being preoccupied with death, we need to wait and hope for the full revelation of God’s wisdom personified in Jesus Christ is the wisdom of God cf. 1Corinthians 1:24. As participants in the wisdom of Christ crucified and risen; we have been given the gift that survives the grave.

Gospel: Matthew 25:1-13

When Thomas Merton, the Trappist genius monk died in 1968, he left behind a legacy which has continued to feed the spiritual hungers and prod the social and political consciences of many to this day. Merton’s death, by accidental electrocution, while attending a conference of Buddhist and Catholic monks in Bangkok was unexpected and untimely. Nevertheless, there is little doubt that he was prepared, like the wise virgins to meet the Lord. In one of his best known books, No Man Is An Island, the holy monk wrote: ‘We must learn during our lifetime to trim our lamps and fill them with charity in silence. . . if the spirit that kept the flame of physical life burning in our bodies took care to nourish itself with the oil that is found only in the silence of God, then when the body dies, the spirit itself goes on burning with the same oil. But if the spirit has burned all along with the base oils of passion or egoism, or pride, then when death comes, the flame of the spirit goes out with the light of the body because there is no more oil in the lamp’

The story of the wise and foolish bridesmaids parable only narrated by Mathew should be appreciated at three levels. At its basic level, Jesus’ lesson concern the reign of God. Those who heard and accepted the good news proclaimed by Jesus’ words and works, would be welcomed in the kingdom; those who refused to do so would find themselves outside looking in at the wedding feast of salvation. At its second level the parable reflects the understanding of God’s continuing plan of salvation. The Jews had in general failed to receive Jesus/bridegroom; these were regarded as the foolish and unprepared bridesmaids. But others/Gentiles did accept the good news of Jesus as preached by the first disciples; consequently, these were regarded as wise. At its third level, the parable is used by Mathew to teach a lesson to all believers in Jesus. Wisdom is with those who keep their lamps trimmed in preparedness for meeting Christ by the daily hearing and keeping of his word. Elsewhere in his gospel; Matthew compares this wisdom of preparedness with that of a person who builds his house on a solid foundation cf. Matthew 7:24-27. Foolishness is in those Christians who heard Jesus words but failed to act on them; just like the person who built a house on sand, such believers have nothing to hold onto in times of difficulty.

The parable concludes with an ominous warning for all. Because no one knows the day or hour of the bridegroom’s arrival, it would be wise to sustain an attitude of continuing preparedness. It would likewise be foolish to think that the mere capacity to call oneself a Christian or to cry out for entrance to the feast “Master, Master, open the door for us!” Matthew 25:11. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?’ Then I will declare to them solemnly, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me you evil doers’ cf. Matthew 7:22-23. To know and to be known by Jesus requires a wisdom that works and waits in readiness to welcome him, not just on that day or on Sunday, but today and every day.

Application

We need to remain authentic seekers of wisdom, live in a constant state of wide-eyed wonder; eager to recognize and affirm the subtle and unmistakable signs of God’s presence. To be truly wise and in proper relationship with God means to realize that we have nothing that has not been given to us. We have to affirm our faith in the resurrection of the dead which is an act of courage and wisdom. When we have a proper relationship with God as explored in today’s gospel, we remain awake and whole prepared as wise virgins to meet the bridegroom. True wisdom means seeking and reaching above, outside and beyond myself to become fully who I am. All human wisdom can be reduced to two words wait and hope.

 

74 Last modified on Saturday, 11 November 2017 11:44

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Luganda: 7:30 am.  English: 9:00 am, 11:00 am and 5;00 pm.

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Welcome to Our Lady of Africa Parish Mbuya. We are located near Bugolobi Township in Nakawa Division. It is about 5 kms from the City Centre of Kampala. Mbuya Catholic Parish is a vibrant and diverse community made up of people from different parts of Uganda. We welcome you warmly and joyfully.

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