Spiritual readings for Sunday 12th November
06 November 2017 CGI news
Week of 6th November (reference: readings for Sunday 12th November)
32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time - Readings: 1Ts 4,13-18; Mt 25,1-13
"Perseverance is a Vincentian virtue that prepares us for the coming of the Lord"
The Gospel of this week tells the famous parable of the ten virgins: the five wise virgins and the five foolish ones. It is a parable that describes very well the Vincentian virtue of perseverance. For Saint Vincent de Paul, perseverance, determination, is the "ardent love" that implies the passion of working tirelessly in order to fulfil our mission, to "transform the hearts", to serve the poor, to evangelize, and to encourage others to do good.
All the ten virgins were ready for the wedding and were highly motivated to participate in the festivity. The difference was that five of them were more prepared: they were prepared for possible contingencies, the responsibility of having lamps lit during the ceremony of marriage: they were concerned about this and therefore, they had to be prepared.
To prepare ourselves can have some important consequences. First of all, to know exactly our responsibility. Sometimes we pay attention to many things that are unnecessary, unimportant for our mission. For example, the virgins were most likely concerned for the party and not for having enough oil so that the lights should be burning from the moment in which the groom arrived. Other times, we care about the activities of others, trying to judge them, rather than focus on improving our mission. This justifies the fact that the wise virgins did not share their extra oil with the foolish ones: if they had shared it, there would be the risk that none of the ten would have lighted lamps and the party would be a disaster. On other occasions, we think that we could make things "nobler" than the ones we do and instead of worrying about our mission, we care about what we could do if we had a higher responsibility function: we forget that, if God has given us the function we have, it is for us to perform it fully.
Secondly, to get ready also means to foresee contingencies. There are things that can happen while performing our tasks that we cannot anticipate. In the case of the virgins, it happened that the bridegroom was late. Only the virgins that had spare oil could get into the party. The rest of them had to go and buy some when the bridegroom arrived.
Thirdly, preparation requires creativity to adapt ourselves to unforeseen events. If the foolish virgins thought that there might be little oil because the groom was late, instead of counting on the wise virgins’ oil, they could have put out their lamps and not have wasted too much, being careful not to light their lamps until the bridegroom’s arrival. Thus, five lights could have been burning until the bridegroom’s arrival and the ten lights burning for the party.
Saint Vincent is considered as the universal Patron saint for works of charity. He planned thoroughly his projects and adapted them innovatively, listening to the Poor and their contingencies. This was what he called the virtue of zeal, of perseverance.
In our visits to the assisted people and in the SSVP special works, we should not be reckless. We need to be like the five wise virgins: be cautious, planners and innovative. I know Vincentians who are very effective in their work, but do not use what they learn professionally in their functions within the SSVP: they have a kind of professional amnesia when working for the SSVP. We have to be modern and innovative, to make the SSVP increasingly present in the world we live in, either through practical action, or through evangelization.