Gospel Reflection for the 32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time
It is fun for me to title these blogs in creative ways and I always appreciate a good pun. I'm so hip that I had to look up what the culture's definition of "lit" was in Urban Dictionary. Apparently, when someone is said to be "lit" they are at a point of intoxication where they are enthusiastic and smiling. In the regular dictionary, "lit" means kindled, ignited, or switched on. I feel like these two definitions connect in a reflection on this Sunday's Gospel about light.
In the Christian faith, we learn a lot about joy and how it is different than happiness. An authentic Christian joy can be marked with a smile within when life is chaotic and troubling without. The Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ has given us hope that Jesus conquers all.
"Behold, the hour is coming and has arrived when each of you will be scattered to his own home and you will leave me alone. But I am not alone, because the Father is with me.I have told you this so that you might have peace in me. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.” (John 16:33)
This inner peace trusting in the Lord's constant presence gives us both reason and courage to smile. Rather than being intoxicated in the flesh, we can experience intoxication in the spirit. Similar to drunk patrons in a bar, we can appear to be foolish in the eyes of the world. A nice glass of wine soothes the senses just enough to not be overwhelmed by what is going on around us. Though alcohol is only to be consumed in moderation, prayer is to be incessant.
One of the slogans of my favorite TV show is "Binge Jesus." When you fall in love with someone, you want to spend time with them. Jesus pursues us and the more we get to know Him, the more time we want to spend with Him. Once we feel the fire of His love warming our hearts, we want to keep the buzz going and find ways to continue to kindle the flame.
The world does not make this easy, however. The chill of apathy, relativism, and distractions can harden our hearts and deplete our oil. The image I have is of the White Witch in the Chronicles of Narnia's The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. She kept the land in an Age of Winter until Aslan returned to melt the ice and snow in the Winter Revolution. He warmed souls and brought them back to life. He ignited the lights within them that had been dimmed so that they could shine for his kingdom. This storyline reminded me of Ephesians 5:6-20:
Let no one deceive you with empty arguments, for because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the disobedient. So do not be associated with them. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light, for light produces every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth.
Try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the fruitless works of darkness; rather expose them, for it is shameful even to mention the things done by them in secret; but everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for everything that becomes visible is light. Therefore, it says: “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.” Watch carefully then how you live, not as foolish persons but as wise, making the most of the opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not continue in ignorance, but try to understand what is the will of the Lord.
And do not get drunk on wine, in which lies debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another [in] psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and playing to the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks always and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father.
We all have a light to shine in the world. When I was young, I remember getting various glow-in-the-dark items and hurrying to the darkest place I could find (usually the bathroom in the interior of the house) to test the glow. In the darkest places, the smallest bit of light can make the biggest difference. I have heard it said that Evil strikes where Good is at work.
In this Sunday's parable, the role of the bridesmaids was to light the path for the Bridegroom. Since they did not know when He would arrive, they had to remain in the dark of night with their lamps illumined and ready. All they had was a lamp and any oil they brought. All they knew was that He was coming. What a tremendous responsibility to wait in joyful hope so they could light the way!
As I reflect on this imagery Jesus offers us, I'm thinking of a modern analogy to the oil lamps. Almost everyone seems to have a smartphone in this day and age that has a built-in flashlight. My friends and family are very aware that I like to document everything by taking pictures and videos of special moments. In times of waiting in line or throughout an ordinary time, I can burn my battery life by clocking some pretty unnecessary screentime. I admit that I'm even stubborn enough to surpass screentime limits when it asks for my passcode to permit more time. Is that you, too? There have been some incidences when I recall being out of battery life for a significant moment due to wasting time hours before. I ask others if they will share their phone with me, but they need their phones at that same moment. I am the only one who can manage my own battery life and I'm the only one who can manage my spiritual life.
Whether you use the battery or oil analogies, both kinds of "juice" represents our personal relationship with Our Lord. Maintaining a healthy relationship requires an Emotional Bank Account. You make deposits in this account when you turn toward your partner’s bids for connection and make withdrawals when you turn away. The Gottman Institute states, "When the account is red, partners tend to question each other’s intentions and feel disconnected, or even lonely. But when the Emotional Bank Account is in the green, partners tend to give each other the benefit of the doubt during conflict. They keep their relationship in the positive perspective."
So, how are you juicing up your spiritual battery? When are you trimming your lamp with oil each day so that you shine brightly for the world to see? Where are the darkest gaps in the path of the Bridegroom that you are called to illuminate?
Take an audit of your Emotional Bank Account with God? Bring your findings to prayer with the Bridegroom who is coming for YOU! He wants to take you as His Bride into His home so you can be together for eternity!