Friday, August 30, 2013

Oil of Faith

Today's scripture selections leave us with perhaps with a dose of wondering and worrying.  In the first reading St. Paul reminds the Thessalonians about the early teachings that the apostles had given them.  Specifically, Paul points to the lessons on immorality.  The gospel story is the account of the virgins who were charged with having their lamps burning to provide light to the master of the property when he returned home in the darkness.

What can we make of the two readings that helps us in our lives, in our work?  So often in today's world we hear or speak about the immorality that we encounter either in the lives of others or, perhaps, our own moments when we may let ourselves wander from the teaching that have been given to us by Jesus and the directives of our Church.  Is the better word for our consideration "immorality" or "purity."  What does each of these words speak to each of us today?  And does each of these words have a different impact upon each of us?

In the gospel servants of the master and awaiting his return.   What is in the mind of St. Matthew and Jesus who uses the practice of the maiden servants, some standing reading for the master and other not ready because of the lack of oil in their lamps?  What should we understand reading this story?

Often times this story, this event, is used to speak about one's faith, the oil of faith.  How important is our faith to us?  Do we have enough at hand?  And, if this last sentence is a valid question, how do I strengthen my faith?  What is it that God expects of each of us when it comes to the matter or our faith? We God come to me today, how bright would my torch be burning, if the oil represents my faith?

Tomorrow is the first anniversary of the death of the eminent scripture scholar, Cardinal Carlo Martini.
The Jesuit archbishop of Milan, who retired only a short time before he died, composed an "news conference" that was to be published after his death.  One of the questions put forward by the man who many Cardinals had hoped would be elected Pope at the time Cardinal Ratzinger was elected may offer us some thoughts about the two readings today.  These are the late Cardinal's words.  The question  the Cardinal, who publicly told the Cardinals in the conclave that he would not accept the election were it to happen because of health issues he felt would impede his performance as the Bishop of Rome, was this:

What tools do you recommend against the exhaustion of the church?
I recommend three very strong ones. The first is conversion: the church must recognize its errors and follow a radical path of change, beginning with the pope and the bishops. The pedophilia scandals compel us to take up a path of conversion. Questions about sexuality, and all the themes involving the body, are an example. These are important to everyone, sometimes perhaps too important. We have to ask ourselves if people still listen to the advice of the church on sexual matters. Is the church still an authoritative reference in this field, or simply a caricature in the media?