SMART OR STUPID
I Thess. 4:13-18,
Actually, the title should probably be “Wise or Foolish” but somehow “Smart or Stupid” seems to grab our attention more! The main idea of today’s readings, as we edge closer to the end of the Church year, is – preparation. It’s smart to be prepared. That is true wisdom!”
The author of the Book of Wisdom writes like someone who is madly in love with wisdom! In the Old Testament, wisdom is seen as one of God’s greatest gifts, because it is almost like receiving an impartation of God Himself. The greatest wisdom is to seek for wisdom and pray for wisdom. Today’s reading says, “For taking thought of wisdom is the perfection of prudence…” And the Book of Proverbs 4:7 tells us, “The beginning of wisdom is this: get wisdom!”
I find it interesting that Jesus didn’t say that there were five good virgins and five wicked. Nor did he say that there were five holy virgins and five worldly ones. He said, rather, that there were five wise and five foolish. The wise ones were prepared for the bridegroom’s (delayed) coming; the five unwise were not prepared because their oil ran out and they had none in reserve. Five were smart enough to have enough oil for their lamps and five were, let’s face it, stupid, for not bringing sufficient oil to keep their lamps lighted. What is the Lord saying to us? Stay awake. Be prepared. Have the oil – a symbol of the grace of the Holy Spirit – within you, “for you know neither the day nor the hour of the bridegroom’s coming.”
Our second reading teaches us about the Second Coming of the Lord. St. Paul gives us a straightforward description of this event: “For the Lord himself, with a word of command, and with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God, will come down from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first.” Then, those who are alive when this happens will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. It sounds glorious! Every Sunday we recite in the Creed that Jesus “will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead.” Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again! May we have “oil in our lamps” when he does!
BE SMART, NOT STUPID
When will the Lord come again at the end to judge the living and the dead? We just don’t know. But that is the very point of today’s readings. We know the bridegroom is coming; we just don’t know exactly when. The gospel relates, “the bridegroom is long delayed.” There is a tendency for people to grow drowsy and complacent – and unprepared. Let us be smart and not stupid! Let us pray, in the words of today’s Collect, that the Lord “graciously keep from us all adversity, so that unhindered in mind and body alike, we may pursue in freedom of heart, the things that are yours.” It’s smart to be prepared for the Lord’s coming. That is true wisdom.