Do you have enough oil? 32 A Sun 2017

Friends, in the heart of every person, there is a desire to get home. Our life is like a single long search for the place where our troubled heart finally finds rest. Christian faith is first and foremost one's experience of the risen Jesus Christ. There were two things that struck me in a special way last week. The first was the MSP retreat that took place from Monday to Friday morning in the Monastery of St Bridget, Falun. The retreat was led by one of our MSP brothers from the UK. Again, the Lord reminded us that all that is required of us Christians is to be still and knowing that he is God. The second event was the Youth Evening that took place on Saturday that began with sacramental worship. Through a testimony of the youth Leader that evening, my belief that God is still working with young people was renewed. Whatever happens, we should rejoice in the hope we have in the Lord.

Wisdom was a sought-after virtue of earlier times. Today it is an old-fashioned thing among many people. In today's first reading and gospel text, we hear about the necessity of wisdom for a valuable life. Becoming a wise person was the most important goal of life of the day. Those who lived in accordance with it were considered wise people. By living his life according to the mind of wisdom, one reached eudaimonia. Other views have influenced how people live and act in our time.

The book of wisdom was written in Greek approx. 150 BC It was the last of the Old Testament books and was attributed to King Solomon. It was written in Greek after the Septuagint translation. Therefore, it is excluded in the Hebrew Bible. Probably the book was written by a pious Jew living in Egypt to strengthen the faith of the Jews who lived under worldly philosophies of that time. He believes that no Jew needed to envy Greek wisdom, which was an elaborated philosophical system aimed at responding to the great questions of life. The Jews had the true wisdom in the holy scripture. As in the Proverb, Job, Baruch and Sirach, wisdom is personified in the Book of Wisdom.

There is none of us who do not sometimes think how everything is connected, how the world began, how it will end and what will happen to us. The individual believer believes by agreeing to the faith of the Church. This becomes clearest in baptism. Everyone believes with the faith of the Church. None of us create their own faith. The Church is a believer's community. A flow of pagan philosophies and false propaganda fills our world and time. It seems that our so-called knowledgeable, enlightened, high-tech and developed people and society are worse than Sodom and Gomorrah or Pagan Egyptian society of the second century BC, which the writer of the Book of Wisdom warned his contemporaries against. Noah and his family were the only ones who were found worthy of God's favour and salvation in a world of evil. Noah did all that God commanded him. There is nothing wrong if you and your family are different from other families, if you choose the Lord just like Noah and Joshua when everyone else chooses other gods, works of human hands. In a society that rejects the word of God, you and your family can choose God and be saved.  

There are many philosophies that form the belief systems of many in our time. Existentialism is among the views that have been important in our world. It is the perception that one is free and has a great responsibility for what she does in her life. Through one’s choices, the individual must decide what is a good human life. In this statement lies the problem of our time too. Do humans really have the capacity for the responsibility that she is considered to have acquired? This approach has been shown to belong and has close ties with atheistic perception of reality. The fool claims there is no God. At the same time, the denial of the existence of God, eliminates the belief that there are objective values. It is believed that there are no longer any absolute values ​​or norms. If God does not exist, then Jean-Paul Sartre writes, it is man himself who decides what is right and wrong. One, through his actions, shapes his image of how he believes that humans should generally be. Being wise in one’s life is no longer an important life goal. This goes against Scripture’s understanding of who a human being should be.  The life view of a human being is the basis upon which one’s actions revolve.  In other words, how she works is influenced by her social environment. The environment thus has a decisive effect on our values. World view, human perception and values ​​are always in interaction. When our worldview, and human perception change, then our values ​​change. Self-realization is perhaps the one thing most people are striving after in our day. In another place Paul writes: “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ” (Colossians 2:8).

Today's challenges, however, again constitute a threat to man created in God's image and likeness. The hand of God who brought his people out of slavery and gave new hope and courage to the people continues to give hope to Christians. Therefore, the scripture says, "Rejoice in hope".

In Thessaloniki, there were some Christians who had wanted to avoid physical death by the second return of the Lord during their lifetime (1Thess 4: 13-18). Some had believed that the would not die before the return of the Lord. Therefore, they were worried that some of their loved ones were dying during this waiting period. The Apostle Paul explains in the letter how it will be with both the living and the dead. Those who mourn should not mourn like those who have no hope. Those who are alive when the Lord comes have no advantage over the dead.

Jesus tells the parable of the ten young virgins. Christian life is like a love story. It's like a wedding party (Matt 25: 1-13). The bride is the Church in its perfect form. In the parable Jesus Christ narrates about ten young virgins’ girls, five of whom are wise and five are unreasonable. We sometimes hear that the Church is holy and at the same time imperfect. It's a collection of wise and dumb.

Time after time we get false alarms that the bridegroom is on his way. Therefore, it is understandable that the virgins become drowsy and fall asleep. Here we see that it was not only the unreasonable girls who fell asleep. Even the wise fall asleep. It was not what people in Paul's time had thought (1Thess 4: 16-17). Nobody can always stay awake consciously. But if the Lord is present in one's longing, dreams, in one's joy and sorrow, then his name becomes a light that illuminates one's interior and his love becomes one's great joy. It is only then that you can have the oil of vigilance, while you are asleep. The groom might delay but surely, he will come. It does not matter that he delays. What is very important is that we hold fast to the Lord even if we fell asleep.

In another parable in which the Lord uses a wedding feast to compare the kingdom of heaven, it was the case of invitees who rejected the invitation.  In the parable narrated in today's text, it is the invitees who gladly accepted the invitation and arrived to attend the feast. These ten young virgins represent all Christians. Through baptism, everyone has accepted God's invitation to the lamb's wedding feast. But baptism is only the door and the beginning of the journey into the kingdom of Heaven. It is not everyone who begins the journey that will complete it. That's why it's not how we care at the start of the journey but how steadfast we are to the last. This moment comes when we hear the cry: "The groom is here, come out and meet him!" This happens at the last moment, the time of death for each one. As long as we live, we are all invited to the feast of the Lord. Everyone has got all that is required to enter the kingdom of Heaven. Only oil was expected of the ten young virgins. The five young virgins misused the opportunity to go with oil.  Like the five young virgins who were not allowed to enter the wedding hall, some of us who Christ died for, has given everything for us to be with him in heaven, will fail to enter the kingdom of God for exchanging our glory, birth right for worldly glory. There are many Christians who like the five unreasonable virgins hold empty lamps in their hands. Now it's a day of salvation. Tomorrow may be late. It is my prayer for all of you that your lamps have enough oil for the coming of the Lord. Chikezie Onuoha MSP

Webbdesign: Peter Tynkkynen