Reflection for the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Reflection for the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Nov 13, 2023 | Reflections

Sunday’s today’s Gospel, Jesus refers to the social customs of the time of betrothal and then marriage. Some months after the betrothal (engagement) ceremony, the marriage would take place. The marriage consisted of the solemn transfer of the betrothed from the parent’s house to the residence of the bridegroom. This ceremony would usually take place in late afternoon. The escort to accompany the bride usually consisted of the bride’s friends or bridesmaids (unmarried young women).  The transfer would begin the moment the bridegroom would arrive at the house of the bride. Once they are at the bridegroom’s house and the gates are shut, the festivities would begin.  In today’s parable the bridegroom arrives unexpectedly in the middle of the night. The question is whether the escorting bridal party is ready to receive him.

Jesus is the Bridegroom and He will come again at some future time. The virgins or bridesmaids represent mankind. Some are vigilant, but others are careless. The time of waiting is a symbol of our life on earth. The arrival of the Bridegroom and the wedding celebration signify the inauguration of the state of eternal beatitude in the company of Christ.

The parable brings to our minds that fateful moment when God calls each and every soul to Himself, that is, at the moment of death. Following the Particular Judgement some souls who lived lives of great virtue will go straight to Heaven. But according to the late Pope Benedict XVI, most good people will likely spend some time in Purgatory,  before entering Heaven. Others who lived careless and sinful lives, wasting their time on earth and who did not repent of serious sin before death, will be excluded from the Wedding Feast forever. Once we die, we can no longer merit, and our fate is fixed forever.
In the parable the wise virgins took oil for their lamps, the foolish ones did not.  The main lesson of the parable is the need to be alert. This means having the light of faith, which is kept alive with the oil of charity. It is not enough to be a member of the Church, one has to be on the watch and be preparing for Christ’s coming by doing good works. This vigilance should be continuous, because the devil is constantly on the prowl. Our prayer life, good works and sacramental life  keep the light of faith alive in our hearts. We should keep the eyes of our hearts fixed on God, our ultimate end, and not be distracted by the many predictions that come through the internet. St Paul corrected the Thessalonians about this trend. Many of them had even given up their jobs and were just sitting around waiting for the Lord’s return. But Scripture says, no one knows the date or time, only the Father.



It reminds me of a story of the great inventor Thomas Edison. Shortly after he opened his first factory, he noticed that his employees were in the habit of watching the lone factory clock. To the inventor and tireless worker, this was incomprehensible. But he didn’t verbally indicate his disapproval, instead he had dozens of clocks placed around the factory. He set them so that none were keeping the same time. From then on, clock-watching led to so much confusion, that nobody cared what time it was, and the factory workers become more productive.

Let’s not be overly worried about the state of the Church and the world and what may happen next. Christ, the Invisible Head is still in the stern of the Boat (Church), guiding the Church through history despite the current loss of faith for so many and doctrinal confusion. The gates of Hell can never hold out against the Church. Like Christ, the current passion of the Church will eventually result in Her arising to Her greatest splendour.

In the meantime, this is the time of intense prayer for the Church and for peace in the world. Our Heavenly Mother has said that prayer (for example, the Rosary) is more powerful than the atomic bomb! Fr. Hubert Schiffer and three of his fellow Jesuit missionary priests who survived the atomic blast at Hisoshima during the Second World War, by faithfully praying the Rosary are proof of this.  The bomb had exploded just 8 blocks from the Jesuit Church of Our Lady’s Assumption in Hiroshima. Let’s therefore push back the action of Satan through the prayer of the Holy Rosary and other works of mercy. This  will ensure we have plenty of oil in our lamps when the Bridegroom returns. Praise be Jesus Christ, now and forever!



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