Wisdom 6: Alert to God's Wisdom In some passages of the Wisdom literature. wisdom is in fact personified and, regarded as God's power acting in the world, anticipates the New Testament revelation of Christ. God's power incarnate. and his Spirit.
This is hardly the case here. but Wisdom is really no more than a poetic and dramatic representation of the will of God. Dedicated search for God's will is necessary. and no idleness or slackness will suffice.
Paradoxically, the search is not only always successful, but God's will is found simply by the searching for it in love.
The lesson is not quite the same as that of the Gospel reading. The point of contact is the vigilant, nocturnal search.
(Wit 6: 12-16)
I Thessalonians 4: Second coming envisaged
One of the most interesting facets of Paul's letters is the way his understanding of the Christian Mystery develops. Here, at the beginning of his writings. he is very much dominated by the thought of the Second Coming of Christ.
This is envisaged according to the expectations of Jewish apocalyptic for the final visitation of God at the end of the world, the cataclysm which will bring punishment to the wicked and justice to the oppressed. Obviously some adjustment had to be made to this Jewish schema to accommodate the fact of Christ.
In Matthew this adjustment appears in the scene of the Last Judg. ment, where Christ takes the place of God as Judge. Here, in the letter to the Thessalonians and in First Corinthians, it appears that Paul envisages the situation after the manner of a Roman triumphal procession. Christ as victor leading his followers in triumph to the Father, when he submits to him the Kingdom in its final completion.
But what is the reality behind this? To what extent must we accept either Matthew's or Paul's images? The mutual incompatibility between them is itself sufficient to show they are only imaginative representations, not dogmatic statements.
They are different ways of expressing the ultimate triumph of Christ and of his followers. The more radical question is whether the whole notion of an end to the cosmos with some sort of big bang makes sense.
Is it not just as closely related to the Hebrew world-picture as creation in seven days, and similarly in need of adjustment now that scientific advance has ruled out this world picture? The theological truths and statements about man's future hope and relationship to God may be perceived the more clearly for this.
(1 Thess 4: 13-18) Matthew 25: The Parable of the Bridesmaids /
The last great address with which Jesus' ministry closes gives an outlook on the future of the Church after Jesus' death and resurrection which are so soon to occur. To Mark's account of this Matthew adds three parables which form the readings for the next three Sundays.
The background to the first is the custom. continuing till recently in Palestine. of delaying the weddingfeast till late at night, the bridegroom being received into it by the bride's attendants. The point is usually taken to he alertness, but in fact this final sentence is hardly appropriate, for all the bridesmaids drop off to sleep!
What does distinguish them is that some were provident enough to come prepared for the inevitable wait. So the original use of the parable was not to encourage a tense expectation of the Second Coming of Christ, but to be prepared for him by action long beforehand. Last-minute conversions cannot he relied on.
(Mt 25: 1-13)