32 Sunday in Ordinary Time
"Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps." (Mt. 25:1:13)
In September of 2020, in the Catholic News Agency, Italian Cardinal Zuppi said that "after the pandemic, it is necessary to start again with simplicity and confidence from the many questions that have emerged: the meaning of life, spirituality, fear, limits." Here the Cardinal's reflection is apropos. Due to parishioners' absence from their Churches, the pandemic created several uncertainties. Like the foolish virgins in our Gospel, many individuals are low on oil due to the unknowing.
The Cardinal also stated, "We must not waste any encounter... It is about helping 'Christians' (more or less practicing) to rediscover the profound newness of the Gospel, not to take it for granted, to grow in the awareness and security that we all need, to constantly return to the first spark of faith in Christ that opens up to amazement and joy." The Cardinal reminds us here of the urgency to re-evangelize in and outside of the Church. Intentionally, Catholics must be wise in taking advantage of the opportunity available to evangelize. We rediscover the joy of the Gospel by inviting everyone virtually or face to face with a mask to prepare for the Bridegroom.
But to rediscover joy, you need a wick/believer with oil to spark one's faith. We are talking about a particular oil coming from believers who radiate light in the midnight hour. These Christian believers know when to trim their lamps and wait on the Lord. They know like the wise virgins to be ready for the Bridegroom. The Lord may not come when you want him to, but he is right on time.
In the Book of Acts, we see this spark of faith demonstrated as the believers in their community shared stories about Jesus in communal life. "They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers. Awe came upon everyone ... " (Acts 2:42-43). And then again, "The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common ..." (Acts 5:12-16)
Today, for us, communal life is small groups. Re-evangelizing our faith community with the oil of gladness will refuel our faith stories to destroy the walls that isolate us through fear. Make a plan, united in love and strength, to join a small group virtually or face to face with a mask this Advent season. The Cardinal said, "If the virus isolates, love unites. If the pandemic scares us, love gives us strength."
Growing in love and strength from each other in small groups will assist the new Church in 2021. This Advent season, join us for a four-part series on "The A.C.T.S. in Advent." By exploring a different but relevant prayer style for our community in small groups, we will strengthen our faith to respond to ambiguous questions that perplex us. Let's come together to rediscover the Gospel of joy. The Bridegroom is coming.
Author: Evangelist Michael P. Howard, MACS
Catholic News Agency Link below: