Friday – St. Monica
Gospel - Matthew 25:1-13
Church of Holy Sepulchre
Anybody have one of those friends, someone who always seems to be in trouble or in need? Someone who always runs to you for help, for money, for solutions, for bail, or maybe even an alibi! And out of friendship, out of love, you always help them out. I mean, face it, isn’t that the Christian thing to do?
And let’s turn the tables around. What about that one best friend who always tells you the truth. They tell you what you need to hear and not what you want to hear. They are honest and sincere. They look out for your best interests even when you don’t want to hear the truth, much less follow their counsel. Now that is tough love.
I think that’s what’s happening today in the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins. The foolish ones are asking for help; give us some of your oil. But the wise ones say NO! What? How rude! How unkind! How unfriendly! How un-Christian! Aren’t these the wise virgins? Why aren’t they helping?
But perhaps that is exactly the point. Sometimes you have to say no; sometimes you have to practice a bit of tough love. Sometimes foolish friends become too dependent on you to always come to their rescue. They expect there will always be a safety net. But sooner or later they have to learn to stand on their own 2 feet, make their own decisions, and take responsibility.
Sometimes maybe the most Christian thing we can do is not solve all their problems but give them the opportunity to resolve them themselves. I don’t mean we abandon them or leave them stranded. I mean we still love and support them but we provide the opportunity for them to direct their own lives. We give them the chance to pick themselves up and carry on. Face it, when we finally stand before God, we will only be carrying our own lamps, our own oil.
We celebrate today the Feast of St. Monica, mother of St. Augustine. Despite 17 long years of resistance, her constant witness to her Christian faith finally converted her pagan husband and St. Augustine. Talk about patience! Talk about persistence! Talk about faith!