Mooching a Gift?
#IsMoochingAGiftoftheHolySpirit is the podcast for November 12, 2017. We have all worked with people who mooched when the project was coming close to being done. Is it possible we could fall into this “mooching” attitude with God? Is there more to living the life of a Christian than God making our life better? Listen here and find out more: Download it into your phone.#Matthew25 #KingdomofHeaven #Discipleship #ViewOnLife #Babies #Adulthood #MatureFaith
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For The Church of Saint Raphael the Archangel, Munster, IN and My Spiritual Advisor, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 11/12/2017 The 32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time.
Please pause this audio and read Matthew 25:1-13.
One of the first sobering realities of parenthood is the first cry from the crib in the middle of the night. It is a real awakening that life has changed. No longer are you the one to be attended to in the crib. You are the one who must provide for the one in the crib. No longer is someone asking you what you need, you are asking the little baby in the crib what they need. It is a constant trial and error until we figure out that the baby is hungry, needs to be changed, or still tired.
When we get our first house or apartment and the rent comes due, no longer are we supposed to turn to our parents and hold out our hand. We are the ones who are to have a job and pay the rent. There is a difference between being the child and being the adult. The child wants everything provided for them because they operate out of a sense of helplessness. Wanting everything to be provided is a mark of immaturity. This immaturity can bleed into our faith as we move from childhood to adulthood.
What I am driving at, is that those who are children have preparation done for them: we put their coats on, we prepare their food, we buy their school supplies, we work to put food on the table for them, and etc. Adults buy the coats, food, and school supplies. Adults put the coats on, prepare the food, buy stuff, and put the food on the table.
What we have in the parable of the ten virgins is a story that is just feasible enough to understand, but not an allegory, with parts that make sense all the way through. Jesus embellishes to make a point. For example, there is usually only one virgin who comes out to greet the bridegroom, and it is usually done during the day. For his purposes though, he mentions ten virgins. Ten is the number of completion in Hebrew numerology. Ten means “all”. The “ten” virgins are all the people of God.
Remember, this parable sets out to say “the kingdom of heaven is like”. So, this parable is a parable of the second coming, when all the virgins, that is the people who believe, come out to meet the Bridegroom, that is Jesus, at the Second Coming.
As was mentioned earlier in the Gospel of Matthew, not all who say, “Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom of heaven. Like the big net thrown into the sea which takes in good fish and bad fish to be sorted out by angels at the judgment following the Second Coming, we have five ready virgins and five unprepared virgins in this story.
The ready virgins are the ones who prepare for the Bridegroom as a matter of course. They are always fully provisioned. They are doing the work, taking note of the directives of Christ. They are going to confession on a regular basis (at least once per month). They are reading the Scriptures daily and praying, especially with their spouses. They are giving the tithe joyfully. Even more than this, they do these things because it is how they think, not because they expect a reward or from blind obedience. They understand the mission of the Kingdom of Heaven and are a part of its implementation.
The ready virgins have moved into living fully into the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom of heaven is a reality. It is God’s presence in the lives of the faithful. This living constantly in the presence of the Lord shapes not only the way we behave, but the way we think and how we see the world. The ready virgins assume faith which causes them to heed the words of Christ and ever be ready for him to come, even in the middle of the night. They heard their leader, their Lord, and made provision on their own. They knew he could come in the middle of the night, so they went out and made sure they had lamps with extra oil so they were sure to be recognized by Jesus when he comes again.
The ready virgins have an adult, mature, faith that hears what Jesus Christ says to us in the Scriptures, in worship, in their own prayer time. They begin to start looking at the world as Christ did: offering blessing to the people who are not wanted, love to the unloved. They begin to look at the earth and wonder, why do I need all this stuff when other people are going hungry? They begin to allow the teachings of Jesus, which are radical, be the center and shaper of their thoughts and their actions.
Without having to be told by Jesus, because they know what he would want, they form communities of loving faith [like ours at Saint Raphael]. They can see what needs to be done and they provision it, teach others about it, and do it. They feed the hungry, tend to the sick, visit those in prison, care for the homeless, and the needy. They do it because not only do they know that Jesus wants it this way, but THEY want it this way because they actively live out the reality of the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth.
The unprepared virgins? Well, they are just mooches. They are awaiting the Second Coming expecting God to give everything to them. Their faith, if they have any, is still stuck in the crib, awaiting someone else to come get them, figure out what they need, and do it for them. They are the “comsumers of faith” seeking out a faith that meets their comfortable lifestyle that still sees the Gospel as only catering to their needs. They have not provisioned for God’s mission because they are still living their mission.
I love how Jesus sets up this parable because it has the unprepared virgins, when the bridegroom is announced, turn to the ones who have heard, provisioned themselves for the mission, and the unprepared virgins say, “Hey, gimme some of yours.” Who of us hasn’t worked with people who are so wrapped up in what the job does for them that they are never prepared? They are constantly sucking from the job without realizing that they have been given gifts from God which would actually make the job better if they contributed from what God has given them.
There is one danger when we think about these two types of people who live out their faith: we can be both. We can easily move from absorbing what it means to be part of the Kingdom of Heaven and think we are better than others and deserve more than others. When we do that we have slipped into an immature faith, an ill prepared virgin faith.
We must always be aware of the lion of selfishness that can rear up and tear our faith to pieces. We must start our day and live throughout it in the Kingdom of Heaven. We must provision ourselves to be healers, over wanting to be healed. We must be lovers, over insisting we are to be loved. We must be feeders over insisting that we be fed. Granted, we need all those things, but we need to be focused on the mission of God, provisioning it, and understanding the greater things that needs to be done.
We are warned in this parable when the unprepared virgins knock on the door: bad planning on our part does not constitute an emergency on the Lord’s part. We have been told. He is coming again. He wants us to take the faith to the corners of the world [Northwest Indiana and Southern Cook County]. He wants us to provision ourselves with regular confession, weekly Eucharist, Daily prayer and Scripture reading, and working to create a community of faith that is a living out of the Kingdom of Heaven daily.
Let us be ready. Our bridegroom is coming. Amen.
This audio is under the copyright of My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated and may not be used, reduplicated, or distributed for commercial use without the express written consent of My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated. My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated, 2017.
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Mark Kurowski, M.Div.
Spiritual Director, Author, Blogger, Podcaster, Theologian