Wisdom 6:12-16; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Matthew 25:1-13
There are five words in the Gospel today which present us with a very simple image of the most critical moment in all human destiny.
Those five words are: ...and the door was closed.
The image is simple enough - a closed door. Since the bridesmaids who came later could not get in we can assume also that the door was locked, or perhaps it had no handle on the outside.
That door is the most important door in the whole of existence, it is the door to the wedding banquet, to the Kingdom of God - the door to heaven.
But this image of a door is also the image of a decisive moment:Those who were ready went in with him to the wedding hall and the door was closed.
We may wonder, does the door of heaven make a noise when it closes? Does it close with a thunderous, frightening, once-and-for-all bang? And, if heaven is a place of light and joy, when the door closed did it leave all those on the other side in darkness and in deep silence? We can only wonder.
The whole purpose of the parable is to get us thinking about the choices we make during our life which prepare us for that moment when the door closes - choices which will make sure that we are on the right side of the door.
Surely one of the lessons of this Gospel is that once the door is shut, it won't be opened again, for anyone.
In our first reading from the book of Wisdom God invites Solomon to ask for any gift he wants - and he asks for wisdom! - wisdom to run his kingdom.
Would you have thought of asking for something like that? 'Gosh, Lord, I do have a huge mortgage, and those credit card bills, and then, of course, my health problems, my kids, and I would like a good holiday - but no, Lord, I know what I want - give me wisdom.'
We thrill at the compelling image, which emerges from the heart of the first reading, of wisdom energetically roaming the streets searching for those who are searching for her.
St Augustine said: You would not be seeking him [God] if you had not already found him.
So in the time remaining let's look at the first reading. There are two characters on stage: Wisdom, and the one who values her.
Those who want Wisdom:
- love her
- look for her
- desire her
- watch for her
- think about her
- are on the alert for her
- are worthy of her
It's pretty obvious that these people really do value wisdom because the search for her seems to preoccupy them.
- is bright
- is readily seen
- is readily found
- is quick to anticipate
- makes herself known
- is sitting at your gates
- walks about looking for those who are worthy of her
- graciously shows herself
- comes to meet [those who seek her]
What does all this tell us?
- We obtain wisdom by wanting her.
- Those who want wisdom go looking for her.
- Wisdom wants to be found and gives herself readily to those who seek her.
- Those who receive her desire her even more.
So eager is wisdom to give herself to us that in order to remain 'foolish' we practically have to fight her off.
What is wisdom? What good is wisdom?
- Wisdom is a gift of God.
- Wisdom helps us ‘understand’ God, ourselves, others, and the world.
- Wisdom helps us to make the right choices.
- Wisdom allows us to see things the way God sees them.
- Wisdom is ‘understanding fully grown’.
- Wisdom is a sharing in the thinking of God. [The wise person thinks like God.]
- Wisdom brings us closer to God and makes us more pleasing to God.
- Wisdom makes us better at teaching others.
- Wisdom leads us to heaven; it keeps us ‘awake’ to God.
- Wisdom ensures that we are on the right side of the door when it shuts.
Look at the amazing soul who is ‘thirsting’ for God in the Psalm.
- I long for you.
- I thirst for you.
- I gaze on you.
- I speak your praise.
- I bless you.
- I lift up my hands to you.
- I remember you.
- I muse on you.
- I rejoice in you.
Wisdom is something we ‘choose’ like the five bridesmaids did. Having chosen it wisdom becomes second nature to us.
We can also reject it like the other five bridesmaids did. And then we remain condemned to a foolishness we ourselves cannot see.
I don't know if there really is a door but I do know there really will be such a moment, such a moment of truth; I pray that when it comes, we may all find ourselves together in the wedding hall - for all eternity.