Dear Brothers and Sisters,
After a long presidential political campaign, we were all expecting to know who the next president would be by Wednesday morning. I heard of some people who spent the whole night watching TV accompanying vote by vote and checking different status. Now there is news indicating that there will be a long legal battle before a new president can be announced. In other words, we will need to wait a little longer. Looking at this scenario, this weekend’s Gospel is very opportune to help us focus in that which is really necessary, staying vigilant in order to be saved. The parable of the ten virgins shows us the need first to have the oil, and secondly, to be vigilant.
The virgins, a little bit like election day, had a life-changing event that was about to happen. In order to be ready for that moment, they prepared themselves to be vigilant. They acquired enough oil to be vigilant as long as it was necessary. The saints interpret their action as being de- voted to God alone. They rejected the world and any earthly affection, they were not careless with the matters of God, nor did they give their whole love or passionate devotion to the heavenly Bridegroom (St. Maccarios, the Great). The oil that they acquired is understood to be the graces of the Holy Spirit. Saint Gregory the Great exhorts the people of God to have not a superficial re- pentance to be seen by man, but a real repentance that will last through the night. Part of the problem is that the virgins needed more oil than they had. He concludes his sermon by quoting St. Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians “Behold now is the acceptable time, behold now is the day of salvation.”
Having enough oil to be vigilant, they waited the whole night for the bridegroom. Back in those days, they would spend hours dealing with the dowry, and the negotiation of the terms of mar- riage. One would never know when the groom would arrive. The element of vigilance was essen- tial for them to enter the wedding banquet. It could be a short waiting period, but it also could take hours. We heard in other parables Jesus exhorting us to be vigilant waiting for the day of the Lord. At the garden of Gethsemane, he tells the apostles to stay vigilant, awake and pray!
As we accompany closely what will happen to our country, I invite you, brothers and sisters, to be solicitous with our salvation. One may say that there is still time for Trump to concede, or to turn around and win, but I say, there is still time to forgive and be forgiven. Our next president will have a term of four (or eight) years, but our salvation and our soul is eternal. Let’s get ourselves full of the oil of gladness, filled with graces of the Holy Spirit, and await until the day the Lord calls us to heaven, where the fullness of joy will be given to us. Everything passes, but God. There- fore ,let’s focus in what is eternal, while being diligent and prudent dealing with what is earthly.
Father Steven Clemence