Homily 32nd Sunday Ordinary Time Cycle A November 12, 2017

The door was locked. The Gospel doesn’t say that God slammed the door in their faces. It says the door was locked. My image is that God gently closed the door, the volume being the sound of a whisper, when he decided it was time for the door to be closed and locked forever. Those left out were not ready, trying their best at the last minute to find a pint of oil for the lamps of their souls, but waited too long. There is such a thing in our faith as waiting too long.
We know all too well that God doesn’t run the universe and the heavens according to our time expectations. How many times have we waited for a prayer to be answered to our benefit or the benefit of someone we love and care about, and by the time the answer was realized, we went from baby clothes to assisted living? The point being that we hope for good results within a certain amount of time, but sometimes God sees it differently.
The door was locked. It’s hard to imagine or accept that five foolish virgins who simply forgot to go to Wal-Mart or Advanced Auto Parts to purchase a can of oil will be locked out of the joys of heaven forever. Because once the door is locked, once Jesus returns, making a better comeback than the Patriots in last year’s Super Bowl, he won’t be coming back a third time. The chasm between the rich man and Lazarus will be finalized, and the door to the feast will never open again. Because of the absence of oil.
If that’s the case, which it appears to be, then the oil must represent something, or some things, essential to our faith. The absence of oil for the lamps for the five foolish virgins symbolizes apathy toward the vigilance of their faith, never being ready to show off their faith, as well as laziness toward their faith.
Now today, a 5th-grader would probably ask the question, “Fr. Riley, what if foolish virgin # 2 was unable to get to Wal-Mart or Advanced Auto Parts to purchase a can of oil for their lamp because they broke their leg playing field hockey, and was unable to drive? Or, they couldn’t afford a cab, or were recovering from heart surgery?” And my answer to such profound questions would be, “Those circumstances would not make them foolish, and God understands where their hearts happen to be in relation to their faith.”
The oil for the lamp is purchased at our Baptism. At Baptism, we were given all the oil we would need for a lifetime of filling up the lamps of our souls, if we’re open to living out the responsibilities of our Baptism in subsequent years, especially our adult years. What are some of those responsibilities in the context of our Catholic faith?
The oil is refilled every time we avail ourselves of the countless graces of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Our Confirmation Class, preparing for reception of the Sacrament next April, will have their lamps refilled in the Spirit at that time, in that moment, as they profess in their openness to the reception of Confirmation that they will now become laborers in the vineyard of our Lord for the remainder of their lives.
Our oil lamps are filled to the brim each week we come to receive the Precious Body and Blood of Christ, and not treating this incredible encounter with the Lord as something routine and somehow normal. Receiving the Creator of the universe and the One who called all things into existence is as far above a normal encounter as one can be.
The lamp gets filled when married couples share their Christian love for each other in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, until death appears at the door. Unlike in the Gospel, where the five wise virgins refused the five foolish ones any amount of oil, telling them to “Go get it yourself. Go get your own!” Unlike that sad result, a married couple is the singular relationship where one can fill the lamp of the other through the sharing of their love, and in their common love for God.
And in the Sacrament of Anointing, a person’s lamp is filled with God’s oil of desired healing, or his grace and peace so desired at the end of life so that we may confidently go forward, not only through the door of death, but also through the open door of heaven. This powerful Sacrament prepares us to meet God and to be ready for his return.
The five foolish virgins who were careless having no oil when it was reported the Master was returning soon, had no Sacramental life. No life of experiencing and desiring God’s love and presence right now. They got caught sleeping in the living out of their faith. Their apathy toward the One they waited for was cold, stale, and lazy. No legitimate, good reasons exist for that possibility.
This is why it’s so joyful to be a Catholic who realizes the necessity to be part of the Body of Christ where the wise virgins gather in prayer and worship. It’s because we will have all the oil we will ever need to guarantee our entrance through the holy door of heaven. From Baptism to the Funeral Mass. Not from Baptism to the Funeral Home Service. Don’t cut your oil supply off moments after we cease breathing. Finish the job. From Baptism to the Holy Funeral Liturgy, we have all the oil needed to enter through the open door, well before he locks it for good.
As the first reading from Wisdom says today, she is seeking those worthy of her. The she is Mother Church, the Body of Christ. And for those who seek, they are wise, for much oil is provided here for your lamps.