Sunday, November 13, 2011

Thirty Second Sunday, Year A, November 6, 2011

In today’s homily, I’d like to address three things: the details of the Gospel, zombies at Hobo Day and in America, and a Halloween surprise.

First, the Gospel. The parable Jesus is telling is about the Kingdom of Heaven, which we know means the Church. This is not a story about those who follow Jesus and those who don’t, this story is about those who follow Jesus but do so incompletely. Ancient weddings included a point where the groom went and escorted the bride. The bride’s unmarried friends would honor her by an escort- similar to bride’s maids today. The virgins are you and I. The other chief figures are the lamps and the oil.

It might be tempting to view this parable as a sharing parable. Rather it is about our soul. Each of us has an immortal soul. We can’t see, smell, taste, or measure that soul in anyway but it gives us life here and now. Our soul gives life to our bodies. The potential power of our souls to image God is so amazing that C. S. Lewis describes it this way: “The dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship.”

Our soul is born in darkness of sin: aside from guilt sin has two effects, clouding our intellect and weakening our will. In baptism our soul is enlightened by Christ- like a lamp being lit. This is why we light baptismal candles, to symbolize this real event happening in souls during baptism.

In our own baptism we are told to keep our light burning brightly. How? By Christian living in union with Jesus Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit. This is where the parable becomes so powerful. We must carefully treasure own soul. The most foolish thing in the world is to live as if your own soul did not exist. Yet we often think that there are more important things to worry about than my own soul. We pollute our soul much more than we pollute our environment.

That brings me to zombies, both at Hobo Day and in America. Zombies are soulless human bodies. Perhaps we like seeing them so much because we fear we are becoming them. Not from a virus but from our disregard for our soul. Zombie’s “are incapable of judgment, self-awareness, or self-preservation. Though they still move and act, they are not really alive. They hunger and are never filled.”

In America today, we have more resources, more pleasures, more entertainment than any culture before us or around us can even imagine. Yet we are never satisfied. Our suicide rates are the highest of any civilization before or around us. Why? Because we feed certain appetites but ignore our soul. We are the foolish virgins. We are not prepared for the coming of Christ because we are not guarding the flame of our soul.

That brings me to my last point. Guard your soul. What about your death? What about the moment when the Bridegroom returns? On Halloween night I went to watch my parishioners play a playoff game. I got a call from the hospital that a woman was dying and they wanted a priest. I didn’t know the woman but I was told she was a Catholic, so I gave her the anointing of the sick and the Apostolic Pardon. I have no “oil,” no grace of my own to give her but I can give her the grace of Jesus Christ, the lifesaving oil of salvation, thanks to my priestly ordination.

Do your friends and family members know that if you’re in danger of death that they should call for a priest as they call 911? Do they know to seek out a priest for you? If you see someone in danger of death, do you offer to pray for them even as someone gives them first aid? Do you ask them if they want to pray for their sins? What a privilege it is for anyone to escort a soul into eternity. What a wise gift of grace you can help them receive. They too can have oil for their lamps through Jesus Christ.

Posted at the Newman Center, too.

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