2

Virgins and the Thief in the Night

Jesus told his disciples this parable:
“The kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins
who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.
Five of them were foolish and five were wise.
The foolish ones, when taking their lamps,
brought no oil with them,
but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps.
Since the bridegroom was long delayed,
they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
At midnight, there was a cry,
‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’
Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps.
The foolish ones said to the wise,
‘Give us some of your oil,
for our lamps are going out.’
But the wise ones replied,
‘No, for there may not be enough for us and you.
Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’
While they went off to buy it,
the bridegroom came
and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him.
Then the door was locked.
Afterwards the other virgins came and said,
‘Lord, Lord, open the door for us!’
But he said in reply,
‘Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.’
Therefore, stay awake,
for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

Matthew 25: 1-13

I have always liked the ending of the Church year, as we focus in the readings on the Four Last Things:  Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell.  In the above reading our Lord, in His usual manner of a parable, sketches out for us His Second Coming and the Final Judgment on the Last Day.  Saint Augustine interprets this for us:

 

They wished to go to meet the Bridegroom. What is the meaning of to go and meet the Bridegroom? To go with the heart, to be waiting for his coming. But he tarried. While he tarries, they all slept. What is all? Both the foolish and the wise, all slumbered and slept. Think we is this sleep good? What is this sleep? Is it that at the tarrying of the Bridegroom, because iniquity abounds, the love of many waxes cold? Are we to understand this sleep so? I like it not. I will tell you why. Because among them are the wise virgins; and certainly when the Lord said, Because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold; He went on to say, But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. Where would you have those wise virgins be? Are they not among those that shall endure unto the end? They would not be admitted within at all, Brethren, for any other reason, than because they have endured unto the end. No coldness of love then crept over them, in them love did not wax cold; but preserves its glow even unto the end. And because it glows even unto the end, therefore are the gates of the Bridegroom opened to them; therefore are they told to enter in, as that excellent servant, Enter into the joy of your Lord. What then is the meaning of they all slept? There is another sleep which no one escapes. Remember ye not the Apostle saying, But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that is, concerning them which are dead? For why are they called they which are asleep, but because they are in their own day? Therefore they all slept. Do you think that because one is wise, he has not therefore to die? Be the virgin foolish, or be she wise, all suffer equally the sleep of death.

7. But men continually say to themselves, Lo, the day of judgment is coming now, so many evils are happening, so many tribulations thicken; behold all things which the Prophets have spoken, are nearly fulfilled; the day of judgment is already at hand. They who speak thus, and speak in faith, go out as it were with such thoughts to meet the Bridegroom. But, lo! war upon war, tribulation upon tribulation, earthquake upon earthquake, famine upon famine, nation against nation, and still the Bridegroom comes not yet. Whilst then He is expected to come, all they who are saying, Lo, He is coming, and the Day of Judgment will find us here, fall asleep. Whilst they are saying this, they fall asleep. Let each one then have an eye to this his sleep, and persevere even unto his sleep in love; let sleep find him so waiting. For suppose that he has fallen asleep. Will not He who falls asleep afterwards rise again? Therefore they all slept; both of the wise and the foolish virgins in the parable, it is said, they all slept.

8. Lo, at midnight there was a cry made. What is, at midnight? When there is no expectation, no belief at all of it. Night is put for ignorance. A man makes as it were a calculation with himself: Lo, so many years have passed since Adam, and the six thousand years are being completed, and then immediately according to the computation of certain expositors, the Day of Judgment will come; yet these calculations come and pass away, and still the coming of the Bridegroom is delayed, and the virgins who had gone to meet him sleep. And, lo, when He is not looked for, when men are saying, The six thousand years were waited for, and, lo, they are gone by, how then shall we know when He will come? He will come at midnight. What is, will come at midnight? Will come when you are not aware. Why will He come when you are not aware of it? Hear the Lord Himself, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons which the Lord has put in His own power. The day of the Lord, says the Apostle, will come as a thief in the night. Therefore watch by night that you be not surprised by the thief. For the sleep of death— will you, or nill ye— it will come.

Our time for preparing for the Second Coming of Christ is during this life.  Rather than speculating as whether we live during the Last Days, let us focus on the certainty that the Last Day will come upon us either before or after we taste death.  The exact time is the Lord’s and not ours.  Ours is the duty for us to prepare our souls for this inevitable event, whether it comes in the next second or a billion years from now.

 

 

2

Seat of Moses

Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying,
“The scribes and the Pharisees
have taken their seat on the chair of Moses.
Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you,
but do not follow their example.
For they preach but they do not practice.
They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry
and lay them on people’s shoulders,
but they will not lift a finger to move them.
All their works are performed to be seen.
They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels.
They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues,
greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation ‘Rabbi.’
As for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi.’
You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers.
Call no one on earth your father;
you have but one Father in heaven.
Do not be called ‘Master’;
you have but one master, the Christ.
The greatest among you must be your servant.
Whoever exalts himself will be humbled;
but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”

Matthew 23: 1-12

 

When Peter first met with Christ he told Him to leave him, because he was a sinful man.  Perhaps Peter had many sins on his soul, but I think it more likely that he simply was not a learned man and was unable to keep, or even be aware of, the myriad ritual purity laws of the Jews, and thus he regarded himself as sinful and unclean as a result.  Judaism had largely been reduced to a system of avoiding ritual impurity by the time of Jesus, and only a man, a Scribe or a  Pharisee, who devoted himself to the study of the Law, could possibly keep the hundreds of laws that Jews had to observe if they were to be kept free from ritual impurity “sin”.  The greatest of the Rabbis understood that mercy and justice were much more important to God than the observance of the endless minutiae of the Law governing ritual impurity, but as the general reaction of the Scribes and the Pharisees to Jesus indicates, their voices were in the minority.

Jesus acknowledges that the Scribes and the Pharisees were the leaders of the Jewish religion.  (As usual Jesus ignores the Sadducees who ran the Temple.  Presumably they were so far from God that it was not worth His time speaking against them.)  He bids the people to do what they say but not to follow their example.  By their works they demonstrated how far their hearts were from what Moses had taught, let alone Christ.  Christ respected the office held by the Pharisees, the seat of Moses that they had assumed, but constantly attacked them for failing to live up to that office.  Words of special meaning to Catholics in this year of grace 2017.

 

1

Saint Augustine and the Canaanite Woman

At that time, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon.
And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out,
“Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David!
My daughter is tormented by a demon.”
But Jesus did not say a word in answer to her.
Jesus’ disciples came and asked him,
“Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us.”
He said in reply,
“I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
But the woman came and did Jesus homage, saying, “Lord, help me.”
He said in reply,
“It is not right to take the food of the children
and throw it to the dogs.”
She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps
that fall from the table of their masters.”
Then Jesus said to her in reply,
“O woman, great is your faith!
Let it be done for you as you wish.”
And the woman’s daughter was healed from that hour.

Matthew 15: 21-18

 

 

 

 

1. This woman of Canaan, who has just now been brought before us in the lesson of the Gospel, shows us an example of humility, and the way of godliness; shows us how to rise from humility unto exaltation. Now she was, as it appears, not of the people of Israel, of whom came the Patriarchs, and Prophets, and the parents of the Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh; of whom the Virgin Mary herself was, who was the Mother of Christ. This woman then was not of this people; but of the Gentiles. For, as we have heard, the Lord “departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, and behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts,” [2593] and with the greatest earnestness begged of Him the mercy to heal her daughter, “who was grievously vexed with a devil.” Tyre and Sidon were not cities of the people of Israel, but of the Gentiles; though they bordered on that people. So then, as being eager to obtain mercy she cried out, and boldly knocked; and He made as though He heard her not, [2594] not to the end that mercy might be refused her, but that her desire might be enkindled; and not only that her desire might be enkindled, but that, as I have said before, her humility might be set forth. Therefore did she cry, while the Lord was as though He heard her not, but was ordering in silence what He was about to do. The disciples besought the Lord for her, and said, “Send her away; for she crieth after us.” And He said, “I am not sent, but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” [2595]

2. Here arises a question out of these words; “If He was not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel, how came we from among the Gentiles into Christ’s fold? What is the meaning of the so deep economy [2596] of this mystery, that whereas the Lord knew the purpose of His coming — that He might have a Church in all nations, He said that He was not sent, but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel’?” We understand then by this that it behoved Him to manifest His Bodily presence, His Birth, the exhibition of His miracles, and the power of His Resurrection, among that people: that so it had been ordained, so set forth from the beginning, so predicted, and so fulfilled; that Christ Jesus was to come to the nation of the Jews, to be seen and slain, and to gain from among them those whom He foreknew. For that people was not wholly condemned, but sifted. There was among them a great quantity of chaff, but there was also the hidden worth [2597] of the grain; there was among them that which was to be burnt, there was among them also that wherewith the barn was to be filled. For whence came the Apostles? whence came Peter? whence the rest? Continue Reading

27

Rank and File Conservatives & The Conservative Intelligentsia United In Outrage Over Mosque Near Ground Zero, Not So With Same-Sex Marriage

The proposed mosque set to be built near Ground Zero, site of the September 11, 2001 attacks has brought a sweeping condemnation from both rank and file conservatives and the Conservative Intelligentsia. Now that President Barack Obama has weighed in the matter, seemingly supporting the effort, one can only imagine how this will be used in the fall elections. However, a rift has appeared to have been opened concerning the views of the rank and file conservatives and the Conservative Intelligentsia following the ruling of Judge Vaughn Walker over same-sex marriage. Many of the conservative intelligentsia, along with the establishment wing of the Republican Party has either been silent or voiced the view that the wished the whole gay marriage issue would simply go away. This has led to bewilderment from some conservative voices.

The best Catholic tie in with the efforts to build a mosque on Ground Zero came from the famed conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer, who is Jewish. In his opposition to the mosque being built near Ground Zero, he correctly pointed out that Pope John Paul II ordered Carmelite nuns, who were living right next to Auschwitz, to move closer to a nearby town, since the site had become a rallying point for Jewish identity. Krauthammer correctly pointed out that Christians had been murdered there too and the nuns were doing the heroic deed of praying for the souls of those who were viciously murdered. However, Krauthammer pointed out that the late Polish pontiff felt that it created the wrong perception.

Continue Reading