November 12, 2023
Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)
Readings for Today
Jesus told his disciples this parable: “The kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise.” Matthew 25:1–2
Our five senses can be said to be a window to our souls. With our senses we perceive the world around us, take it into our minds and heart, and engage it according to the decisions we make. Several of the Church Fathers say that the five wise virgins in today’s parable represent those who use their five senses in accord with God’s will, whereas the five foolish virgins are those who indulge their five senses in a life of sin.
Interestingly, Saint John of the Cross teaches that the highest form of communication with God takes place when our five senses are silenced and all that we have learned through them is darkened so that God can communicate to us in a direct and spiritual way. But until we reach that level of spiritual perfection, accomplished by various purifications of our soul, we must rely upon our senses as a source of knowledge, especially our knowledge of God.
With our eyes we are called to perceive the beauty of God’s presence within creation, especially in other people. With our ears we hear the Word of God proclaimed that then resonates within us, inspiring the gift of faith. Our senses of smell, taste and touch will also teach us in various ways, leading us either to the delights of the Kingdom of God, or to the indulgences of the fallen world.
If the five wise virgins represent the holy use of the five senses, then we must see the connection between them and the oil for their lamps. Many Church Fathers see the oil as a symbol of good works, or charity. Charity is necessary for the attainment of Heaven, for the meeting of the Bridegroom when He shows up at an unexpected time. The person who engages in charity is one who uses the natural gifts given by God for His glory. Their five senses are constantly seeking ways to glorify God and to accomplish His holy will.
The five senses can also easily lead us to the selfish pursuit of fleshly pleasures. When this happens, the oil of charity runs dry within us and we are unprepared for the moment of our death, when the Bridegroom returns.
Think about yourself being those wise or foolish virgins by considering how you use your five senses. What do you look at regularly with your eyes? Do you seek out the presence of God in our world? Do you see Him in the poor, the vulnerable, the lonely, and the needy? Or do you look at the many evils all around you and become infatuated with them, allowing yourself to be drawn into their practices?
With your ears, do you listen attentively to the Word of God? Or do you find yourself drawn to the world of gossip, detraction and other sinful words that are spoken? Do you indulge your senses of touch, smell and taste, choosing an excess of pleasure, becoming inordinately attached? Or do you strive for temperance and self-control, denying yourself unhealthy and sinful pleasures?
Reflect, today, upon the natural powers of your own soul, especially the gift of your five senses. As you do, examine the ways you use them, what you look at, listen to, and indulge in. Your senses are but a window to your soul and the first way through which God speaks to you and enters your heart. Keep guard of your senses, and only allow the good things of Heaven to enter in. Doing so will produce the oil of charity within and will enable you to be perpetually ready for the coming of our Lord.
Lord of perfect charity, You desire to speak to me and reveal Yourself to me in many ways. I pray that I will always perceive You with my eyes and ears, and use all of my five senses for Your glory. Please free me from every inordinate and unhealthy attachment so that I am free to completely attach myself to You. Jesus, I trust in You.
Saint of the Day – Saint Josaphat, Bishop and Martyr—Memorial
Not celebrated as a liturgical memorial this year since it falls on Sunday