When the Oil is Running Low
32nd Sunday Ordinary Time
November 12, 2023
“The foolish ones, when taking their lamps, brought no oil with them, but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps.”
from Matthew 25:1-13
In this Sunday’s gospel, we meet two kinds of bridesmaids—the wise and the foolish. Newly married couples played a little game: after the wedding, the groom would return to the household, but would try to catch the wedding party by surprise! If he could sneak by them, they would be locked out of the party for a while. Some of the bridesmaids were smart and brought lots of oil—they suspected that the bridegroom might try to pull a fast one and show up after dark or at an unexpected moment, so they came prepared! The foolish ones however, realizing too late that they were running low, ended up getting shut out.
Is your “spiritual oil” running a bit low these days? Do you even realize it? Well, what are you doing about it? Sometimes, it is God himself who permits our resources to run short, so that we might learn to depend on him alone. The way things are for many of us these days, you may think your life is too full of stress, your finances too tight, your health too poor, or your life too miserable to even begin to “fill up the tank”. But leave that to the Holy Spirit! He is ready to guide you to a life of greater balance and fill that oil tank if we really begin to cooperate with him. Here are a few examples of how the Holy Spirit can help you not to run out of fuel while waiting for Christ’s “arrival”.
· Do I cultivate an attitude of gratitude? A complaining, negative spirit robs us of the protection and guidance the Spirit wishes to give us because it is an erosion of trust in God. It leaves us to our own devices and then the oil starts to drain out.
· Do I go to confession on a regular basis? Unrepentant sin or leading a double life will drain the oil out of my flask and the flame will dim or even go out in my soul.
· Do I attend Sunday Mass regularly? How faithful am I to a life of prayer? When we honor our commitments to God, he helps us in hidden ways. If we put him last, he may let us handle things ourselves, if that’s what we want, but this will usually lead to an empty gas tank!
· Pay attention to how you treat others, whether charitable giving is a part of your budget, whether you are taking care of your body. How you entertain yourself will either nourish your soul or drain it. When Jesus comes by surprise, will he find me ready or will the flame be all but out? For Jesus, the bridegroom, is very likely to catch you by surprise.