November 12, 2023
FOCUS: Always be prepared to welcome Christ, for we know neither the day nor the hour of his arrival.
The Gospel parable reminds us to keep vigil for Jesus. It is easy to get distracted by the details of work, family life, and other responsibilities so that we forget the real purpose and mission of our lives. Let’s each take a moment to contemplate how we can live out our vocation in life, readying ourselves for the Lord’s coming.
What's in Your Heart
The tone of our readings takes a major shift this month as we move toward an ending and a new beginning. The readings focus on cataclysm, change, and the end times and what it takes to prepare ourselves for such moments. Today the focus is on wisdom. The good news is that “Wisdom is . . . easily discerned by those who love her, and found by those who seek her,” according to the first reading. But wisdom, like the oil that keeps our inner lamps burning, must be sought and found on our own—we cannot rely on others to do the preparation for us. With prayerful confidence, ponder the following questions:
What has been the surest source of wisdom for me in my life?
In what ways lately have I pursued wisdom? What lessons have I learned?
The Book of Wisdom says, “One who is vigilant on her (wisdom’s) account will soon be free from care.” What are the cares that are uppermost in my mind right now?
In what ways do I feel unprepared spiritually?
What piece of wisdom can I count on no matter what happens in my life?
After decades of regular Mass attendance, I usually know what to expect. Sure, some things change from week to week in terms of songs, readings, prayers, and decorations. Of course, homilies are always different and challenge me in ways I don’t anticipate, and sometimes I’m surprisingly moved in prayer and worship. But on any given day, the Mass and my experience of it follows a pretty set pattern. There’s a lot to be said for consistency and familiarity, but the downside is those things can lead to taking the Mass for granted.
I was delighted on a recent Sunday to be unprepared to hear Mass in sign language for the first time. It sure woke me up to the words, as I heard them (thanks to an interpreter) and saw them with fresh senses. It was beautiful, almost like a dance, the way the priest’s vestments rippled with his gestures. It often takes longer to sign sentences than to say them, so the interpreter frequently paused, allowing me to savor and ponder the words for a moment longer than usual. Then it pained me to realize that, while this was enriching me, I hadn’t thought much before about those who are excluded from fully experiencing the Mass because of hearing impairment—and it sunk in how much I, like those in the gospel who were not vigilant, had failed to notice the obstacles others face.
- God is not found in the soul by adding anything, but by a process of subtraction.
The Wisdom of God . . . comes forth, reaching from "end to end mightily." She wills to be also the unseen pivot of all nature, the center and significance of all the light that is in all and for all.
—Thomas Merton, "Hagia Sophia"
Because this coming lies between the other two, it is like a road on which we travel from the first coming to the last. In the first, Christ was our redemption; in the last, he will appear as our life; in this middle coming, he is our rest and consolation.
—Saint Bernard of Clairvaux
The times we find ourselves having to wait on others may be the perfect opportunities to train ourselves to wait on the Lord.
—Joni Eareckson Tada