“Be Prepared” by Fr Michael Scott

“Be Prepared”                                                                                               32nd Sunday Reflection

In early November, we see all around us signs in nature that remind us of the Winter that is coming. In today’s Gospel reading we are reminded of the future life that awaits us – life with God. Jesus teaches us this through a parable from real life based on Palestinian matrimonial customs… the story of the 5 wise and the five foolish bridesmaids. The message is clear and simple. ‘Be prepared!’ … ‘Don’t waste time’.

In Shakespeare’s drama ‘Henry V’ when the King was imprisoned, he lamented: ‘I wasted time and now time waste me.’ It may be the lament of many people when they come to die: ‘I wasted time’! None of us know the hour or the day the bridegroom will come.

The story is told of a King who had a Court Jester he was found of and who kept him amused. One day the King gave the jester his sceptre and said: ‘Keep it and when you find another person more stupid then yourself give it to him’.

Years later the King fell seriously ill and was close to death. He called the jester and said to him: ‘I’m going on a long journey.’
The jester asked: ‘When are you coming back?’
‘I’m never coming back’ replied the King.
‘And what preparations have you made for such a journey?’
‘I’m made no preparations.’
‘Your majesty is going on a journey of no return and you’ve made no preparation for it?’ said the jester surprised. ‘Here, take the sceptre… I have found a person more stupid then myself.’ And he gave the sceptre back to the King.

When the five foolish bridesmaids came back late they found the wedding hall barred and bolted. ‘Let us in’ they said and the reply came back, ‘I do not know you’. The greatest tragedy in life would be to come to the end of it and be rejected by the Very One who came to save us, ‘I don’t know you… away from Me’.

The poet Tennyson has a verse on this:

‘Late, late, so late! and dark the night and chill!
Late, late, so late! but we can enter still.
Too late, too late! ye cannot enter now.

No light had we: for that we do repent;
And learning this, the bridegroom will relent.
Too late, too late! ye cannot enter now.

No light: so late! and dark and chill the night!
O, let us in, that we may find the light!
Too late, too late: ye cannot enter now.

Have we not heard the bridegroom is so sweet?
O, let us in, tho’ late, to kiss his feet!
No, no, too late! ye cannot enter now.”’

There is no sound so sad and laden with tears of regret as the sound of the words: ‘Too late’!

May such not happen to us! Amen.