Our society, especially in the West, is an instant gratification society. We don’t want to wait for anything. Truth be told, we really don’t want to work for much either. We want what we want and we want it now.
Listen, I’m just as guilty of this as the next person. I’m not really sure when that happened for me. I mean, I grew up in a culture (country of Zambia on the African continent) that nothing was instant. It took a hot minute to do anything and everything. But somewhere along the way, I fell into this instant trap as well.
We don’t want to wait for anything.
I’m struck by the tone of anticipation and the anticipatory language of our texts for this week’s readings. I invite you to read them:
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Notice the language:
Don’t be unaware.
Our world lulls us into the opposite of all these things. We watch. But we watch Fox News or CNN or the latest thing streaming on Netflix or our phones. What we don’t watch is Christ. We gaze into the bottomless pit of social media instead of gazing into the face of Christ. I’m reminded of Christ’s Passion. In the garden, during His agony, He told Sts Peter, James and John to “watch and pray.”
What are you watching for?
Be vigilant. We are lulled into drowsy comfort by our full bellies and conditioned homes. Please don’t misunderstand me. I am grateful for the stuff that God has blessed me with and I enjoy living in a comfortable home. But our 1st world comforts have glassed over our eyes and we are no longer vigilant. The vigilance of concentrated prayer and study of God’s Word no longer keeps our attention. Speaking personally for me, this is one of the things that has attracted me to pursue a “monastic” prayer life. I utilize the Monastic Diurnal for my daily prayers and have found it be vastly helpful in this realm for me. I am forced to be vigilant and pay attention. I have also begun praying the Rosary in Latin which, again, forces my attention and vigilance.
Be vigilant. Don’t be unaware. Be ready. Stay awake.
And what is the result of all this waiting, all this vigilance, all this awareness?
Look at our reading from Wisdom. We see how wisdom is personified (we’ll come back to that). Wisdom is the result, the outcome, the gift of the waiting. As we wait, as we watch, as we gaze upon the face of Christ in prayer and study of His Word, we see. The promise of wisdom is fulfilled in the waiting. The promise of wisdom is more than “knowledge.” The promise of wisdom is the personification of wisdom.
The promise is the person of Jesus the Christ.
Jesus Himself tells us this in our gospel reading today. The wise virgins were vigilant and ready. They were prepared with the oil of patience to fill their lamps. They were awake and ready when the bridegroom arrived. Just as we must be awake, watching and waiting and gazing into the face of Christ as we meditate in prayer and upon His Word.
Wake up, slumbering Church! Be vigilant, Bride of Christ! Your Bridegroom cometh to claim His Bride! Will He find us ready? Will He find us vigilant and prepared, meditating upon His Word? Will He find us filled with the oil of hope and patience as we await His coming?
Church, let us watch. Let us be vigilant in prayer. Let us not be unaware and lulled into sleep and comfort by the distractions of the world. Let us be ready and stay awake, watching and praying.
The Bridegroom cometh! He cometh with the shout of victory and the joy of His Bride!
Thanks be to God!