Friday, November 4, 2011

True Wisdom

Thirty Second Ordinary Sunday Year A

Each culture has developed a whole collection of wise sayings and proverbs. We also grew up with lots of advice from our elders. “Don’t judge a book by its cover;” “Take care of one’s needs first before thinking of others;” “Don’t put all your eggs into one basket” etc.

Being ethnically Chinese, I have come to realise how we have often equated wisdom with knowledge and also good business acumen. A man who knows how to save, how to make good investments, who becomes rich as a result of his own hard work and intelligence, he is regarded by society as a wise man.

All these wise sayings have their place in our lives. However, holding onto some of them may cause us to loose sight of the most important wisdom of all. The wisdom that tells us that all comes from God and all will return to God. It is this wisdom that reminds us that the most important things in life are not just having friends, having lots of children or grandchildren, prosperity and luck. All these are important but they are temporary. The most important thing is our faith in God who has promised eternal life to us, and this is for eternity. To understand this is true wisdom.

Many people are good at making investments - buying the right shares, making the right business judgments. However, many people are really bad at making spiritual investments. We work so hard in life in order to make life easier for ourselves and our children and we end up at death with nothing. We are prepared for any eventuality in life – education, business, family life – but we are not prepared for eternal life – we are not prepared for death.

This is the meaning of the parable in today’s gospel. Jesus contrasts the foolish bridesmaids with the sensible bridesmaids. What distinguishes the sensible ones from the foolish ones are that they are prepared to meet the bridegroom at any time. The foolish ones thought that they had enough oil, they had enough time, but they were ill-prepared.

My brothers and sisters in Christ. Do you have enough oil burning in your lamp? Are you prepared to meet the Lord at any time? It could be today, tomorrow, this week, next month or next year. Have you made the right investments? Have you invested for eternal life? Of have you put all your investments in looking for worldly pleasure, riches, ambition, fame, and power. My brothers and sisters in Christ, you may have all these things – power, riches and fame – but they will serve you no good at your death.

When people tell us to be wise and not be foolish, let us heed their call. But let us understand what is true wisdom. True wisdom is investing for eternal life, not this life, not in riches, not in possessions. No. True wisdom is being always prepared to meet the Lord who may call us home at any time.

“So stay awake because you do not know either the day or the hour” when the Lord comes.

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