Scripture Reflection, November 12, 2023, 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Wisdom 6:12-16 Thessalonians 4:13-18 Matthew 25:1-13
Today's gospel contrasts wise behavior and foolish behavior. To understand the parable it is important to take note that these ten virgins in the story had an important role to play for the community. It was the light they carried that illumined the path from the wedding celebration to the bridegroom’s home for the newly married couple. Since this was likely to occur late at night, the light from their lamps was needed. The common good required it.
Those of us of a certain age will recall the time when we were asked at a restaurant if we wanted to be seated in the smoking or non-smoking section, sometimes separated by a low planter! Tell your grandchild that and watch her eyes grow large. “But, Grandma, everybody breathed the same air, didn't they! “
“Well, yes, honey, but there was a strong tobacco lobby and some individuals believed that their right to smoke was more important than the common good.”
In the gospel parable all ten virgins had a right to participate in the procession. But only insofar as it contributed to the common good. The suggestion made by the foolish virgins that the wise virgins divide their own oil would likely jeopardize the procession for the whole community who might have no light at all. The wise virgins’ refusal can serve as a reminder to us that not all choices are equal. That not every individual right takes precedence over the rights of others.
Choices have consequences. And I suggest that today's parable reminds us that those consequences have moral content, content that leads directly to the gospel mandate to love our neighbor as ourselves. Statements like, “It’s my money and I can do whatever I want to with it!,” or "I have a right to…(fill in the blank),“ need to be carefully weighed by their consequences to the common good. It is not only always merely a difference of opinion. Think guns, climate care, etc…
In the parable the wrong choice led the foolish virgins to be locked out of the wedding feast altogether.
by: Pat Schnee