This past Sunday we heard in Matthew's Gospel 25: 1-13 the story of the ten virgins, five who came prepared and five who were not ready when the bridegroom came. The Gospel ended by reminding us of the importance of being ready, "Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour."
In next Sunday'a readings, 1 Thes. 5: 1-6, we will hear: "When people are saying, 'Peace and security,' then sudden disaster comes upon them, like labor pains upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape."
This past Sunday I attended mass in Clearwater, Florida. The priest's sermon made a correlation between the story of the ten virgins and the people of Pompeii. If you have been to Pompeii or if you have seen the imagery of the various people frozen in time buried under the ash from the volcano, you have seen just how suddenly their world came to an end. Scientists tell us their deaths were immediate from the temperatures being in excess of 250 degrees. We also know all too well how the beauty of a beautiful morning in New York City on September 11th was suddenly shattered with such an abrupt injustice. And of course sadly, we have all lost loved ones. Sometimes these losses were sudden and unexpected and other times we had time to plan and say goodbye. In the sermon, the priest pointed out two key points contained in the readings: first was suddenness, and the second was readiness.
When I think of the suddenness of death I think of an accident or a heart attack or an unexpected natural disaster like a tornado or the story of Pompeii or even the terrorist attack on 9-11. The suddenness of death leaves loved ones behind with inexplicable pain and loss that only the love of Jesus can heal. Furthermore, when someone's death comes suddenly, at that point we can only hope and pray that they had a relationship with Jesus.
When I think of readiness, or actually the lack of readiness, my frame of reference is my 32 years of experience as an estate planner and life insurance professional. When I meet new clients most of them have not made adequate preparations for their death. Some don't even have a will. Many have inadequate life insurance. Others have not left instructions of any kind to their families, nor have they made plans for their funeral or burial. There is a sense at times that if they don't plan for death it won't occur. We all know how silly that is but at some point, we all fall prey to this type of thinking.
My comments above had to do with our physical preparedness, but what about our spiritual preparedness. I have often noticed that although we were called to action, as apostles, at our baptism and again we were reminded of our calling on our 3 day weekend, we react to that calling but frequently without a sense of urgency. We have been told that "The day of the Lord will come like a thief at night." When Cursillo was formed it was in response to the urgent needs of Spain following a terrible civil war. The founders of the Cursillo movement recognized the need to bring Christ to all of their environments. That same urgency exists today! Many people do not have a relationship with Jesus as their Savior today. We are experiencing a time when the world is turning to secularism and religion is being viewed as something for only weak minded people. We are all called to be the bearers of the Good News to the world at this time.
We are also called to have our own spiritual house in order. Cursillo calls us to have a close relationship with our Saviour. We are told to communicate with God every day (Piety). We are called to get to know him better every day (Study). Then we are challenged to take the love of Jesus Christ to others (Action). Are we responding to these calls with urgency? If God were to call us home today are we ready? If God were to call others in our environments home today (family, friend, neighbors, co-workers) have we fulfilled our calling and have we shared the Good News with them? Are we prepared if the second coming of Christ was to happen today? One of God's many gifts to us is the method of Friendship Group Reunion and Ultreya. These tools help us be prepared. If we take these readings seriously can we ever afford to miss the opportunity to be at Friendship Group Reunion or Ultreya or to share the love of Jesus Christ with all of the people we encounter today? Do our daily actions demonstrate that we believe in the importance and urgency of our apostolic calling? Let us commit today to having a sense of urgency and a plan for doing our Lord's will.
- What do I need to do to be better prepared for the day the Lord calls me home?
- Who in my environments is God calling me to, to help them estabilish or build a better personal relationship with Jesus?
- Do my actions demonstrate urgency in my calling or do I act as if time is limitless?
- Have I brought oil for my lamp, or will my light burn out before the bridegroom arrives?