- Fr. John Jennings
Our Sacred Stories: Waiting for Jesus - Meeting Jesus
Walking down the street, I spot a person coming toward me whom I know I have met before. What is their name? Where did I meet them? Did I teach them? Were they in one of the parishes where I have been? Worse – Did I just meet them recently? Searching through the files of my memory, the name does not come to me. This happens to me often. It happens to us all. Meeting someone like this challenges us. We are often not prepared for such encounters.
Our Gospel this weekend (Matt 25:1-13) is about encounters and being prepared. The ten bridesmaids were waiting for the coming of the groom. He was late arriving and when he did come, some were prepared, some were not. Why does Matthew tell this parable of Jesus?
Like all the parables they are told first for the little communities of Christians to whom the Gospel writers belong. These early Christians of the first generation after resurrection, expected Jesus to return in glory soon, even in their lifetime. As time went by, the return was delayed, like the groom’s coming. Some were discouraged by this delay. Matthew’s parable is to urge Christians to wait patiently and be prepared for the encounter when they would meet their risen Lord: “Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”
As it did to Matthew’s community, this parable speaks to us. Like them, we continue to wait in faith and readiness for the Coming of the Lord Jesus in glory. We wait to enter into a sharing in the risen life of Jesus. We wait for the Coming when all creation will be made whole and the God’s Kingdom will be fulfilled. And we know “neither the day nor the hour.”
We also wait and prepare for our own daily encounters with Jesus. Every day, we meet Jesus personally in the challenges and experiences of our lives. Jesus comes to us in the persons we meet, in the needs of others and the joys of companionship with one another. Jesus comes to us in the wonder of all Creation and in our care and delight with this Creation. We cannot predict when these encounters will come. Nor can we foresee how these meetings with Jesus will take place. But all of these daily encounters with Jesus call forth responses of love and respect, care and compassion.
In the present experience of the corona virus, we recognize how difficult it is to wait. In the midst of our isolation and distancing, in the dislocation of our mask-wearing, we wait for a vaccine. There is no telling when we will have such a vaccine. But when it comes, we must be ready to receive it. Only then can we relax our current situation. We long for it, we wait for it, we are impatient for it.
Our life experience at this moment in time offers us some special opportunities to wait for encounters with Jesus in very practical ways. We wear our masks and social distance not for our own sake, but for the sake of those around us. Our concern for the all people of our world and our nation is a chance to reflect the face of Jesus beyond our own circle. Our readiness as communities to support our public health leadership and those who advise us from the World Health Organization is a response that expresses the global compassion of our loving God for all. How aware, ready and responsive are we when our loving God reaches out to us in the daily experiences of our lives? Are we ready?
Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.