32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time - Remembrance Sunday in the UK
It is very easy to see in the parable of the five prepared and five unprepared bridesmaids in Matthew's Gospel (Mt 25:1-13) a clear call to be alert especially in our own awareness of the Lord's coming to us. It's not simply being prepared for that great meeting with the Lord at our own hour of death, but those continual, surprising connections that find us discovering Christ in so many ways. As Christians we are supposed to be disciples, on mission, proclaiming by our lives the Kingdom of God and the joyful news of Christ. It's not just for the ordained or men and women religious it's a call for all us to be faithful to our baptismal vocation.
In a world where there is much uncertainty and in certain quarters a certain strange view of religion as something arcane and full of superstition, we have a clear duty to be awake to the signs of the times and give eloquent and also intelligent witness to our faith. I am certainly not somebody who sees the Church as a body of the 'elect' fighting a dark and sinful world, no the blessings of God are too abundant for us to hold that view, human beings may be capable of great evil, but they are also capable of much love and goodness, we are after all brothers and sisters in the human family who have a duty of care for life itself!
Think of the many causes people are involved in, from justice issues, to ecological awareness, from relief of poverty and pain, to great concern for other animals and our living planet. Those who do good are alert to the signs of people and living creatures, they see as William Blake did in his poem, Auguries of Innocence not only the beauty of small things but also the pain too:
' To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour
A Robin Red breast in a Cage
Puts all Heaven in a Rage'
Yes, being prepared as the Bridesmaids were not only opens us up to Christ's presence and to shed our lamplight on good works, but also to light up and reveal the darkness of evil and injustice so that it may be overcome. We may see infinity but we also have to 'rage' against those things that are evil. And so, on Remembrance Day we turn to keeping alive the gifts, love and sacrifice of those gone before us, not glorifying war, but mourning our capacity for it and the casualties it still causes, but also to remember a greater gift, that of hope/
"For if we believe that Jesus died and rose,so too will God, through Jesus,bring with him those who have fallen asleep. (I Thess.4:14)
That is our gift, for in Christ the final victory has been won!
William Blake, Auguries of Innocence, last four lines:
'God Appears & God is Light
To those poor Souls who dwell in Night
But does a Human Form Display
To those who Dwell in Realms of day'
Fr Robin is an Eastern Rite Catholic Chaplain for Melkites in the UK. He is also an Ecumenical Canon of Christ Church, Oxford