Cycle A 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

 Wis. 6:12-16; 1 Thess. 4:13-18; Mt. 25:1-13

Today, we reflect upon a parable from the Gospel of Matthew that Jesus shared with his disciples. It is a story about ten bridesmaids awaiting the arrival of the bridegroom. Five of them were wise, and five were foolish. This parable conveys profound truths about spiritual preparedness, vigilance, and the importance of being ready for the coming of the Lord.

The story of Noah and the Ark is a classic example of preparedness in the face of impending disaster. Noah, righteous in his generation, was instructed by God to build an ark to escape the flood that would cleanse the earth of sin. Through his obedience and preparedness, Noah and his family were saved. This narrative emphasizes the importance of heeding God's

warnings and being prepared for the challenges that may come.

The Passover story highlights the importance of preparedness for the Israelites. God instructed them to be ready to leave Egypt in haste, with their sandals on their feet and staff in hand. The preparedness of the Israelites allowed them to follow God's guidance and escape from slavery. 

The Bible consistently teaches the importance of preparedness in various aspects of life—spiritual readiness, stewardship of God's gifts, obedience to His instructions, and anticipation of future events. Being prepared is not just a temporal or practical matter; it carries profound spiritual implications, shaping our response to God's call and our readiness for the eternal realities that await us.

In ancient Japan, there was a humble village surrounded by dense forests and guarded by towering mountains. In this village lived a wise elder named Hiroshi, renowned for his knowledge of the natural world and his teachings on the importance of preparedness.

One day, Hiroshi gathered the villagers beneath the cherry blossom tree in the village square. He spoke of a legendary creature, a mystical serpent that dwelled in the heart of the nearby mountains. The serpent was said to bring both blessings and challenges to the village, depending on the villagers' preparedness.

The elders of the village, who had heard these tales from their ancestors, paid heed to Hiroshi's words and diligently prepared for the serpent's potential visit. They stored surplus food, reinforced their homes, and organized emergency drills to ensure everyone knew how to respond.

However, among the villagers, there was a group of young individuals who dismissed the tales of the serpent as mere folklore. They saw no reason to invest time and effort in preparing for an event they deemed unlikely.

Seasons changed, and the village experienced years of prosperity. The tales of the serpent became a distant memory for many, including the sceptical youth who had grown complacent in their lives.

Then, one fateful night, the ground trembled beneath the village. The villagers awoke to a distant roar, realizing that the serpent had awakened and was approaching. Panic ensued as the unprepared struggled to gather their belongings and find shelter.

In contrast, the prepared villagers swiftly implemented the plans laid out by Hiroshi. They guided the panicked ones to safety, shared their provisions, and fortified their homes against the impending danger.

As the serpent approached, it unleashed a torrential downpour upon the village. The unprepared were caught off guard, facing the full force of the serpent's challenges. In contrast, the prepared villagers weathered the storm with resilience, their homes standing strong against the deluge.

When the serpent finally departed, leaving the village in disarray, Hiroshi stood among the ruins, his gaze fixed on the cherry blossom tree. He addressed the villagers, "The serpent has shown us the importance of preparedness. Life is filled with uncertainties, and by being ready for the unexpected, we can face any challenge that comes our way."

From that day forward, the villagers embraced Hiroshi's teachings, recognizing that the wisdom of preparedness was not just a safeguard against mythical serpents but a timeless lesson for navigating the unpredictable journey of life.

Life is unpredictable, much like a journey into unknown terrain. It is marked by unexpected twists and turns, presenting challenges and opportunities when we least expect them. In the face of this uncertainty, preparedness becomes our guiding star, illuminating the path forward.

Consider the analogy of a sailor embarking on a voyage. They meticulously check their vessel, ensuring it is seaworthy and stocked with provisions. They chart their course, aware that the seas may be calm or turbulent. Such preparedness isn't born out of fear but out of respect for the unpredictable nature of the ocean.

Similarly, in the grand tapestry of life, preparedness is not a manifestation of anxiety but a manifestation of wisdom. It is an acknowledgment that our journey may take us through uncharted waters, and being ready equips us to navigate the unknown with resilience and grace.

Think of those who face natural disasters—those who have emergency plans, stocked supplies, and a community network in place. In times of crisis, their preparedness becomes a lifeline, a source of strength that not only sustains them but enables them to extend help to others.

On a personal level, preparedness allows us to harness our potential fully. It is the foresight to invest in our education, health, and relationships. When opportunities knock, the prepared mind, like a well-prepared field, is ready for planting, cultivation, and a bountiful harvest.

One incident that vividly illustrates the lesson of being prepared is the story of the Titanic disaster in 1912. The sinking of the Titanic serves as a stark reminder of the consequences of insufficient preparedness in the face of unexpected challenges.

The Titanic, considered unsinkable by many, set sail on its maiden voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. Unfortunately, on the night of April 14, 1912, the ship struck an iceberg and began its tragic descent into the icy waters. The incident resulted in the loss of more than 1,500 lives.

What makes the Titanic a poignant lesson in preparedness is the insufficient number of lifeboats on board. The ship, designed to accommodate over 2,400 passengers and crew, had lifeboats for only about 1,200 people. The lack of adequate lifeboats was a fatal oversight that contributed to the high casualty rate.

Let us also reflect on the parable of the ten bridesmaids, as shared in various traditions and scriptures. The wise bridesmaids carried extra oil for their lamps, symbolizing the importance of being spiritually prepared. Their readiness allowed them to embrace the joyous arrival of the bridegroom without hesitation.

In our fast-paced world, where change is the only constant, preparedness is our anchor. It is the compass that points us in the right direction when the winds of uncertainty blow. Whether we face personal challenges, professional endeavours, or societal shifts, the prepared mind and heart are resilient, adaptable, and capable of transforming adversity into opportunity.