As the father of two teenage daughters, the way I spend most of my time can be summed up in two words: I wait. I wait as they pick out the perfect outfit; I wait while they apply the finishing touches to their make up; I wait when I pick them up from extra-curricular activities; and I especially wait for that narrow window of opportunity when I can ask them a question without getting my head bitten off. Over the years I’ve learned that it’s best if I find other things to do while I wait: I apply the finishing touches to my makeup – just kidding, this is natural beauty. I read a book or newspaper, check my emails, practice the homily I’m about to give. You get the idea. As Christians, we wait, too, and our readings this evening advise us to use our time wisely.
We, as Christians, believe that Christ will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead in what we call the eschaton, the end times. From Saint Paul’s words in our second reading, we learn that the earliest Christians believed that the eschaton was imminent, and they were concerned that Christ had not yet returned. Some two thousand years later, we still wait. Although our souls are thirsting for God “like a dry, weary land without water,” Jesus makes clear in our Gospel that we have to wait. But he also makes clear that we shouldn’t be sitting around doing nothing; we have to use our time wisely.
Wisdom is generally understood as good judgment based on knowledge and experience. The Hebrew Scriptures equate wisdom with God, and in “early Christian literature Jesus is said to be the incarnate Wisdom of God.” That’s why our first reading instructs us to seek out Wisdom, to watch for her at dawn; to keep vigil for her. “But wisdom [isn’t] passive. She [doesn’t] simply wait for the sage. She ‘hastens to make herself known.’” It’s a two-way street. God is always offering us his Wisdom – in Scripture, in prayer, and in the quiet of our hearts – but we also have to seek it. As the wise poet and playwright Oscar Wilde once said, “With age comes wisdom, but sometimes age comes alone.” In other words, acquiring Wisdom requires an effort on our part, too.
Now that we know a little bit about Wisdom, we need to return to the question at hand. How do we use our time wisely while we wait for the Second Coming of Christ? Jesus gives us the answer. The wise maidens in our parable are the ones who are prepared to meet the bridegroom when he comes. We need to prepare. How do we prepare? We listen to God’s Word and act on it now. (Luke 11:28) “We must personally appropriate the teachings of Jesus and enact them in our lives.” As the wise saying goes, “practice makes perfect.” “Living the Gospel is not like hoarding oil or packing a backpack. It’s more like riding a bike, learning a new language or being generous. You practice until it comes naturally.” If we want to use our time wisely, we have to practice living wisely over and over again, until living according to God’s Wisdom comes naturally.
Now, I’d be remiss if I didn’t address the ominous warning in our Gospel. Jesus makes perfectly clear that we know neither the hour nor the day when he will come, so the time to prepare for his return is right now. Remember, the foolish maids in our Gospel were unprepared, so they were locked out of the wedding feast. Just as it’s far too late to start studying for a test on exam day, it’ll be too late for us to start living according to God’s Wisdom at the hour of Christ’s return. Now is the time to prepare. Now’s the time to live according to God’s Wisdom.
†Now’s the time to forgive past hurts and mend broken relationships;
†Now’s the time to honor the God-given dignity of each person, no matter what our ethnic, political, or religious differences may be;
†Now’s the time to comfort those suffering from depression or addiction and all who are sick, hurting or afraid;
†Now’s the time, before it’s too late, to live like the saints we’re intended to be.
Yes, we wait, but there’s no shortage of opportunities to prepare ourselves for Christ’s Second Coming by living wisely right now, by living as God’s Wisdom teaches us to live. As a wise scripture scholar warns us: “There is no knell so laden with regret as the sound of the words too late.”
Readings: Wisdom 6: 12-16; Psalm 63; 1 Thessalonians 4: 13-18; Matthew 25: 1-13
 Justo L. González, Essential Theological Terms (Louisville, Westminster John Knox Press, 2005) at 182.
 Michael Kolarcik, “The Book of Wisdom,” The New Interpreter’s Bible, vol. V (Nashville, Abingdon Press, 1997) at 491.
 John Shea, Spiritual Wisdom of the Gospels for Christian Preachers and Teachers: On Earth As It Is in Heaven, Matthew, Year A (Collegeville, Liturgical Press, 2004) at 316.
 Mary M. McGlone, “Practice Makes You Ready,” National Catholic Reporter, vol. 54, no.2 (November 3-16, 2017) at 23.
 William Barclay, The Gospel of Matthew, vol. 2 (Louisville, Westminster John Knox Press, 2001) at 375.