32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Saint Mary Parish, Pylesville 4:00pm and 8:00am
Saint Matthew Parish, Baltimore 11:00am
November 12, 2017
Sand in an Hourglass
There is a story about a little, seven-year-old girl who lived near the beach.
Her grandfather also lived near there and she loved him very much. He had a beautiful hourglass and this little seven-year-old liked to turn it upside down and watch the sand steadily flow from the top glass bulb though the narrow opening into the bottom bulb.
Her grandfather once told her that the hourglass reminded him of time – that time was limited and precious. Well, this particular year, Christmas was coming.
This little girl’s mother told her that her Grandpa was in the hospital and was very sick. He might even die.
The little girl asked what that meant. And her mother explained that life was something like Grandpa’s hourglass and that there was very little sand left in the top bulb to flow into the bottom.
Well, her mother suggested that she make a special Christmas gift that they could take to Grandpa. So the little girl excitedly went to work on her gift.
When they got to the hospital, she gave her Grandpa a little wrapped box. He slowly unwrapped it and looked inside and just smiled.
He immediately understood. His little granddaughter had filled the box with sand.
The Story of the Bridesmaids
Well, if it were only that easy!
If only we could extend our days and time by adding more sand to our hourglasses! But, of course, we cannot!
Today’s parable of the bridesmaids addresses this very issue. There are three important lessons.
Lesson 1: Prepare
First, each of us must prepare for the moment when we will meet God face to face.
We must do this for ourselves. No one can do it for us.
We see this in the refusal of the five wise bridesmaids to share their oil with the others. This is not an issue of being selfish.
Instead, it is about being prepared. These bridesmaids did not share their oil because they could not share this kind of oil.
This is the oil of personal preparation, the oil of who we have become as persons in the course of our lives. We can encourage one another, but ultimately each one of us must do this preparation for ourselves.
Lesson 2: Watch the Time
The second lesson is to watch the time.
There are only so many grains of sand in the hourglass. We see this in the inability of the five foolish bridesmaids to go and buy oil for themselves.
Obviously, it was midnight and the stores were closed. And that is exactly the point: it was too late!
The moment had come, the groom and bride were arriving and there was no more time to prepare. This will be true for each one of us at some moment.
So, we need to watch the time and be ready today. We need to live as if today were our day to meet the Lord face to face.
Lesson 3: Be a Light
And then the third lesson is that we must be about light.
Psalm 36 in the Old Testament praises God by saying: “In your light we see light.” The idea is that we need to allow ourselves to be drawn into the light of God.
And then, with this light, we can see light in the world and bring light to one another. “In your light we see light.”
We see this in the oil lamps that the bridesmaids are to keep burning brightly. We are to be and to bring light in our world.
This is a helpful way for understanding the kinds of things we are to do, like just being there for a young person who is struggling with an identity issue or like advocating for health care for everyone. These are examples of ways we can be light and keep our lamps burning brightly.
2. Watch the time.
3. And be a light.
Valuable lessons and reminders in today’s gospel story!