Are we taking life seriously or are we wasting it?
The end of Matthews gospel prepares us for the day of judgment, where we will finally meet the Lord. Today the message is that we should stay awake, for we know neither the day nor the hour of his return. He could return tomorrow, at Christmas, on the feast of Christ the King, or many years from now. At his return, everyone will be separated, sheep from goats, according to how we lived his call and how we performed the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. On that day we will present to him what we have done with the talents we received.
In the Gospel, Jesus tells us the parable of the five foolish and five wise virgins. The five foolish ones did not bring enough oil for their lamps; the five wise ones did. How does this apply to us Christians? At baptism we received the Holy Spirit and the life of faith. That is the oil that we have been given. We lay up a store of oil for our lamps by nurturing that life of faith through the Eucharist, by works of mercy and by growing in holiness. The oil is the life of faith, it is virtue, it is prayer, it is every good thing. If we are nurturing the faith, we need never be afraid that he will lock the door on us saying, “I never knew you. And you never knew me because you did not live what you were meant to be through baptism.” And what about our relatives? What about those on the margins who do not know the good news of the gospel? Do we care that they might be locked out. What is the evidence that we care for them? Are we living as if there were eternal consequences for our actions?
We are carrying the light of Christ and we must bring it undimmed into the eternal life of heaven. But not everyone who is baptized gets into heaven. It depends what we do with that magnificent gift during our lifetime. Yes, at the point of death we are given the choice of whether or not to accept his mercy, but even so we may end up with the profound regret that we have wasted our lives. Are we investing ourselves in trifles? Do we care more about our profession, or about worldly esteem, than about the eternal praise of the saints. If we are settling for an elementary school level of faith, we are being foolish. Do we know the faith as deeply as other things in our life? If not we need to refocus. We need to see with the eyes of heaven. If we care about things that ultimately don’t matter then we’re going to regret it. We ought to be radically different from the world. We need to make choices that may seem crazy to the world because we value the life of faith over the life of the world. If not, one day we will regret that too.
Jesus wants to know what we are doing with our lives. Are we taking life seriously or are we wasting it? Let’s have our lamps full and be ready, that many will have learned to love him through our witness and our prayers.