Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Homily for the Last Sunday of the Church Year

“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.  At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’...The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.  Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’  “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’  “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour." (Matthew 25:1-13).

All of the 10 virgins fell asleep.  They all entertained the idea that the Bridegroom might not be coming as soon as they thought.  They became drowsy and they all fell asleep.  When the cry went out at midnight the virgins rose to meet him.  For the five wise virgins, the Bridegroom did not seem to care that they were still wiping the cold out of their sleepy eyes.  But nevertheless, they were ready, they had oil in their lamps, they were ready to meet him. For the five foolish virgins who came out to meet him, they did not bring extra oil.  They didn’t believe he was coming anytime soon.  They despaired and fell asleep.  Our Lord, without any hint of malice simply speaks the truth to them, “Truly I say to you, I don’t know you.”  The door was shut.  They could not enter.

Who among us does not become depressed?  Who among us is not often lonely and despairing.  Who among us has not lost a loved one?  Who among us had their life turn out, not quite as hoped for or expected?  Who has not been abandoned?  Who has not had a broken heart?  Who among us has never been betrayed or slandered?  Who has not been hurt by their own children?  For all the sufferings that have been inflicted upon us, it is no match – no comparison – to the sufferings we have afflicted upon ourselves by our own sin.  If we are honest with ourselves, we suffer not by other problems, or from other people, but primarily from ourselves.  The majority of our scars are self-inflicted.  We suffer from unbelief by acting and falsely pretending that we are orphan children who have been left for dead.    

Repent – and wake up.  You have been enticed and seduced by the lies of the evil one.  You have eagerly indulged in gloom and hopelessness.  You have wallowed in your own self-pity.  You have done everything you can to invite despair.  You have become drunk with the sheer of idea of yourself – your struggles – your temptations.  In vanity you refuse to even consider the very real possibility that your neighbor’s sufferings are greater than your own.

Repent.  As difficult and hopeless as your situation seems to be, it is not as bad as what you think.  Wake up, and confess that like the 10 virgins you too have become too drowsy and have fallen asleep in regards to your faith and love toward one another. What more do you need?  What more do you want?  God loves you!  For one eternal afternoon He hung in Hell for you, was forsaken of the Father, was defiled by death, and the demons danced on His grave. But they were soundly dispersed and disappointed when the tomb was opened by the angel and the guards struck dumb. The night forever ended when the Dayspring from on high rose and gave Light to men. In this way, by His death and resurrection, He appointed you to Himself. He died for you that you would live with Him.  Now you dance on your on your own graves, laugh like children, sing hymns that your mothers taught you.  And there is even room for your to be naughty and flip the bird to the devil.  Wake up dear Christian!  What do you need that has not been done for you?  What do you lack that has not been given to you?  Why do you act like orphans when you are sons of your Father in heaven?

Why do you think of yourself as a harlot when you are virgin pure?    He is coming to meet you.  So stay awake.  It will come suddenly, unexpectedly, like a thief in the night. The Bridegroom is coming to take you.  He will open the door of the banquet hall, and usher you in with his angels.  God in His great love will steal you away from the darkness, death, and chaos of this fallen world. He will pull you from your traitorous bed and trim your lamp. You will again be pure and undefiled. You are covered in the cleansing oil of His baptism, filled with the blood of the new testament.  You are not of the darkness or of the night no matter how sleepy and lazy you might feel. You are of the day, you are the light of the world.  You are of the Sun! You are of Jesus Christ – the bright morning star.  You are among the wise, even though in this life, you are considered a fool.  But you are in good company.  They said the same about Moses and Noah.  They said the same to St. Peter, James, and John.  
And the greater point is this.  You are not just one of the virgins, you are the Bride of Christ.  The virgins serve you.  The bridesmaids, the pastors, are called to dress you up.  Ensure that you are dressed, beautiful and ready to meet Him.  Arise, wake up.  The wedding feast is prepared.  So wipe your sleepy eyes.  And arise to meet him.  The door is open.  Now is the hour of your salvation.  Enter into the banquet hall to meet Him.  He stays awake and waits In Jesus name.  +