Sunday, November 12, 2017

Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings of the day: RB 35:1-11
Mass: Wisdom 6:12-16; Resp. Psalm 63; 1 Thess. 4:13-18; Matthew 25:1-13

Today’s readings made me think of triathlon. What does triathlon have to do with the spiritual life? More than one might think. Many may think that triathlon consists of three disciplines, namely, swimming, cycling, and running. In fact, there are five disciplines—swimming, transition 1, cycling, transition 2, and running. Training for the sport requires not only physical training, but mental as well. For anyone who excels in the sport, she must spend hours training in both areas, as well as others. The motto taught me by my coach was, “Don’t forget nothing,”  adapted from Rogers’ Rangers Standing Orders, by Army Major Robert Rangers, 1759. The prepared triathlete knows what she has to do before she even does it. This is especially important during transitions, where races can be won or lost. All movements in the transition must become instinctual. Therefore, the transition area must be organized; everything in its proper place. In other words, don’t forget nothing. 

Looking to today’s gospel, Jesus tells us to stay awake, for we know neither the day nor the hour. Five of the virgins in the parable were wise. They were alert and prepared; their lamps trimmed, oil ready. They forgot nothing. They were ready to meet the bridegroom and be welcomed to the feast.

The athlete and pilgrim on the journey to God have much in common. The lover of Saint Paul knows this well (1 Cor. 9:24-27). The disciplined and trained triathlete cannot predict what will happen with weather, race conditions, or her physical and emotional responses to the intensity of the sport. What she can do is train and prepare as best she can, taking nothing for granted, and forget nothing. The one seeking God can also prepare as best she can. With grace, she is faithful to a disciplined life of prayer while serving God and her sisters and brothers in love. With the guidance of a trusted and wise spiritual companion (a coach!), she is better able to navigate the vicissitudes of life. Like an athlete, the one who seeks God cannot predict what will come on a daily basis, but she can learn to respond in ways that help her grow in intimacy with the Living and True God. Son of the Living God, grant us the grace.

Wisdom is found by those who seek her.

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