12 November 2017

There are no fools in heaven

32nd Sunday OT
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP

Are you wise? Or, are you foolish? What's the difference? According to Jesus, the wise live their lives prepared to enter the Kingdom at a moment's notice. The foolish live moment to moment gambling that the next moment isn't the moment they will be called to judgment. We could interpret Jesus' parable of the wise and foolish virgins as a scare tactic, one designed to frighten us into a constant state of paranoid readiness. You've probably seen the billboards: “If Jesus returns right now, where will you spend eternity?” There's certainly an element of “you had better get ready and stay ready” in the parable, a kind of “Jesus is going to jump out of the clouds and catch you by surprise.” However, if we can go to the foundation of the parable, we find a slightly less paranoia-inducing truth: every decision we make, every word we utter, every thought we think, everything we do prepares us or does not prepare us to enter the Kingdom of God. The wise know this and live accordingly. The foolish choose evil and call it good. And as our Lord makes clear, there are no fools in heaven.

Say you wanted to try being a fool. How would you go about becoming foolish? It's really very simple. St. Thomas Aquinas tells us a foolish man acquires his folly by “. . .plunging his sense into earthly things, [by which] his sense is rendered incapable of perceiving Divine things” (ST II-II.46.2). Preoccupied with the things and thoughts and actions of the world, an otherwise wise man can become foolish by making worldly things, thoughts, and actions his principal occupation. IOW, when he forgets that his primary goal in this life is to serve God and prepare for the Kingdom, he chooses evil and calls it good. The vice of mistaking evil for good twists the conscience over time and drops the fool into deeper folly. In sophisticated theological circles we refer to this process with the phrase: “Stultus facit peccatum.” “Sin makes you stupid.” Sin must make us stupid b/c sin results from a deformed intellect informing the will that an evil act is in fact a good act. The foolish virgins, knowing that the Bridegroom could return at any moment, chose not to prepare properly for his arrival. This is no accident. They didn't “forget.” The didn't “fail to anticipate.” They chose not to be ready. When they plead with the groom, “Lord, Lord, open the door for us!” He replies, “Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.”

There are no fools in heaven b/c the Lord knows no fools. Avoiding folly in order to grow in wisdom is fairly straightforward. With every word, every deed, every thought ask yourself: does this word, this deed, this thought prepare me to live in the Kingdom of God? Ask yourself: does this word, this deed, this thought bind me more tightly to the world or to Christ the Bridegroom? Keep foremost in your heart and mind your deepest desire to find your perfection in the One Who created you and saved you. Keep front and center your longing for peace, your hope for resurrection, and your need to see the Father face-to-face. Do not grieve like those who have no hope, believing their beloved dead are dead forever. We will all die. But we cannot be dead in Christ. Only a fool chooses to live his or her life as if these few years on earth are all there is to living. Only a fool chooses to attaches himself to the passing things of this world and call himself content. We are made for eternal life. And while we live in the world, we live in wisdom, knowing that Christ the Bridegroom loves his Bride and will never abandon her. Choose wisely. Live wisely. There are no fools in heaven.

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