Saturday, November 05, 2005

Get filled up! 5 minutes a day (Sunday homily)

Our first reading raises the question:
What is true wisdom-
and who is truly wise?

When I was kid,
there was a TV show called “Kung Fu.”
It was about a fellow
who wandered all over,
and basically, some bad guys
always tried to jump him,
and he ended up wiping the floor with them,
using “Kung Fu”—martial arts.

It was the same story every week:
can you see how this
would appeal to a 10-year old boy?

But while you waited for the showdown,
there would be flashbacks,
to when our hero was himself a boy:
and he was being trained by this old man,
who would give him lectures about “wisdom”
that never made a lot of sense:

“Ah, grasshopper,” he said:
“can you snatch a cloud
down from the sky?
Can you snatch this pebble
from my hand?
No? Ah—that is wisdom…”

Sometimes that’s what
we think wisdom is:
Beyond our reach,
a mystery we can’t penetrate.

But what do the Scriptures say?
“Resplendent and unfading is wisdom,
and she is
readily perceived
by those who love her,
found by those who seek her.”

True wisdom
is a “mystery”:
But when we say something is a “mystery,”
That doesn’t mean
we can’t say anything about it;
it means, we can never
everything about it.

See the difference?

The mystery of God’s Wisdom
is like a water-fountain:
Drink all you want;
there will always be more.

Now, we look at the Gospel passage,
and the Lord himself
teaches us about wisdom:
He shows us five foolish virgins,
and five wise ones.

What’s the difference?

The foolish brought no oil with them;
but the wise had an extra store
of oil for their lamps.

Now—let’s focus on those lamps, and the oil.

The lamps are their lives—
remember what Our Lord himself said:
“Let your light shine” before humanity.
But what keeps the lamps lit? The oil.
So: what is that oil?

Well, it can’t be ordinary, natural oil—
because then, the difference
between the wise and the foolish,
is just a matter of time:
sooner or later,
everyone’s oil would run out.

That also means the oil
is not something we go and “buy.”
The five foolish tried that—
and it didn’t work!

So what is that oil?

Maybe you recall a story
from the Old Testament,
the prophet Elijah
visits a family during a famine:
and there was a miracle:
the mother’s supply of grain and oil
miraculously did not run out:
when she went back
to the bottle of oil, she found more.

The oil in the lamps of the wise
does not come from ourselves;
it does not come from our efforts—
we don’t buy or earn it—
it is a gift from God.

The Oil in the Gospel is the same
as the Wisdom in the first reading!
It is the Life of God Himself:
the Holy Spirit.

When did you or I ever “buy” the Holy Spirit?
We don’t earn God’s indwelling Spirit
by good works;
it’s the other way around:

The more we open ourselves
to the Spirit in our lives,
the brighter the lamp of our lives will burn!

And that’s why it doesn’t matter
how long we wait for the Lord:
the lamp of our lives will burn bright
with the Flame of God’s Fire!

Wisdom is God’s Holy Spirit,
aflame in our hearts:
The Holy Spirit doesn’t play
“snatch-the-pebble” with us.
This Divine Wisdom is readily available
for those who seek it.

There’s only one way
to fill our lamps with this Oil:
Prayer—time with the Lord—
this is how we allow God to fill us up.

The tank of my car will run out,
unless I stop for a fill-up.
It’s just something we need to do.

Are you stopping
to fill up with the Spirit of God?

This is a reason to be faithful at Mass,
a reason to bring your kids to Mass—
don’t worry about what anyone says:
they need to learn where to fill up as well.
Beyond the duty of Mass
on Sundays and holy days,
is the opportunity
for daily Mass. More “fill-ups.”

For those who can’t do that,
we have our chapel.
Open all night, all day, every day:
Jesus waits there to fill you up.

If we can’t do that,
we can pray where we are.
The rosary, time with scripture
or other reading,
Time when the noise is turned off,
the door is closed,
time to be filled up.

Just five minutes a day
of real quiet and peace—
with the Lord—will make a revolution!
And yet how many of us
never do that for ourselves!

I challenge our younger parishioners:
Make sure you get quiet time
to fill your lamps!

If we seek from God
the Oil of his Holy Spirit,
He’ll keep our light burning,
to find our way,
especially when all other lights go out!

And that, grasshopper, is Wisdom!


DilexitPrior said...

Do you have a perpetual adoration chapel in your parish? It's hard not to be jealous of that!

Claire in Virginia said...

Good Evening Father,

Funny you mentioned about the martial arts TV show that you used to watch when you were 10 yrs. old. It reminded me of a very similar show called "The Smiling Proud Wanderer" which I used to watch when I was little eventhough I didn't understand the Taiwanese language (thank goodness for subtext). It's basically the same storyline. The hero goes places fighting bad people and has flashbacks of his training w/ his master before he karate chops someone. The master usually utters ambiguous words of wisdom as if one has to decipher it like a Menza puzzle. It's like what you said, it made me think that wisdom is "beyond our reach, a mystery we can’t penetrate."

This morning I had a nice chat with one of our priests while waiting for my RCIA class. Father asked me how do I find the class. I told him that I really enjoy being there because I learn a lot. I've been a Catholic all my life and yet, I still have many questions. He said to me, "I'm a priest and I still have a lot of questions too." He smiled and said, "You know, asking questions is the beginning of wisdom." I thought what he said about wisdom was simple and it made a lot more sense.