The parable of the ten Bridesmaids
In the midst of a year which has been full of disappointment and challenges. Suffering and grieving. A year which has come with the kind of national impact and response which some have compared to the response the nation took during the two world wars. It is perhaps not surprising, in the midst of all these challenges, that the results of the election in the United States has resulted in a sense of release causing people there to run into the streets dancing and singing.
Last week at the feast of All Saints, Jesus taught the Beatitudes. The Fourth beatitude is: ‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled’ We don’t use the word righteous very often, indeed often if we do it is as a criticism because we are calling somebody ‘self-righteous’. Jesus often uses the word righteous in that way, as a criticism of the pharisees and temple leadership who were more concerned with maintaining their own cleanliness, their own righteousness.
But of course Righteousness – literally rightness and a hunger and thirst for it in the tradition of the Judaism and Christianity
is a hunger and thirst for justice. As in a hunger and thirst for justice for the other and the stranger, for the downtrodden, for the imprisoned and the ignored and oppressed.
In the scripture oil is often a symbol of righteousness, it was with oil that Aaron was anointed as priest when the people came out of Egypt into the wilderness. It was with oil that David and each of the kings that followed were anointed as a reminder of their own calling to righteousness. It was with oil that Jesus was anointed as he prepared to be killed and to rise from the dead in the ultimate act of the merciful justice of God.
Here in today’s Gospel the wise bridesmaids are so called because they are ready with oil. Wisdom is linked to their readiness and to the oil of righteousness. Remembrance is about honouring those who have died, but it is also about learning from our past, remembering the impact of war, learning from it – gaining wisdom from it. How important it is that we become wise to the importance of having a hunger for righteousness, a thirst for justice. How important it is that we are always ready, prepared either for the coming of the Bridegroom, or one who would mislead us down of path of injustice. So that remembering those who have suffered, and what they suffered for, we can seek for justice.
Paul encourages us with words of hope so that we will not grieve as others do. Not because we do not grieve, but because even as we grieve we also pray that this is not the end – that those who have died will be gathered up with us into the clouds. So we can seek that righteousness, that justice without fear for ourselves but accompanied by the wisdom of God.
The Reverend Robin Sims-Williams
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John 20:19-end Thomas the TwinWeekly Services Sunday Mornings 8.00am Morning Prayer in the lady chapel10.00am Parish Eucharist with choir and Sunday School Weekday Services Christian Meditation Wednesdays at 9.10amSaid Eucharist on Wednesdays at 11.00amEvening...
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