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Are we awake, or are we sleepwalking?
Are we awake, or are we sleepwalking?
The Cardijn method of See-Judge-Act is something that takes some practice. Mentally or academically, we say to ourselves, “I got this down pretty well.” Then, we find ourselves in a situation and struggle to use it quickly or even methodically. It is that human moment of “when the pressure is on, our brains take a nap.” If you are a TV Jeopardy fan, you always see this. Even you know the answer, but the three of them on stage have that “deer in a headlight look.”
If you find yourself at your weekly, bi-weekly, or maybe monthly :) Attendance at the liturgy and find yourself figuratively “sleeping walking” through the homily, try this: Listen to the gospel and then think about the story, the message, and the parable that Jesus is telling us about the Kingdom of God here and now. Think about it through the lens of the Cardijn method. Apply the See-Judge-Act process to what you are hearing and what you are experiencing, reflect on past actions and behaviors, and discern if you got it right or if the change is in order.
The gospel for 12 November 2023 is from Mt 25:1-13:
"The kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins
who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.
Five of them were foolish, and five were wise.
The foolish ones, when taking their lamps,
brought no oil with them,
but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps.
Since the bridegroom was long delayed,
they all became drowsy and fell asleep.”
The virgins in the Gospel story are you and me, and everybody in between who has been is now or will be. That is why there are 10. Ten was a “mystical” number in the ancient world that signified “totality” or completeness; no one is excluded. You notice five are awake and five are asleep. Equal among all.
Jesus, in this story, is addressing a universal truth of God’s revelation, and that is that the plan of God is that we bring light into the world; everyone brings a dimension of light that only they can bring into the grand tapestry of creation. The kingdom of God is like a seamless garment. Now, try to See or visualize the seamless garment in our daily lives. Most of our lives look like a quilt, with many sections sewn together with backing and borders and corners.
As we sit and listen to the gospel, Discern/Judge, what is the experience in life that Jesus and even his earliest followers were deeply in touch with that drew this parable to give meaning to the audience? Jesus and his followers had a sense as you and I do about the mysteries of human consciousness and the evolving revelations of what some of us call the Divine God (Spirit) in the workings of human history. When you study comparative religions, you see this mystery unfold in all humans. That should be a hint for us.
Think See-Judge-Act, and what we see and what we judge will focus on the oil in the lamps. The oil is a metaphor for faith and hope and love and forgiveness, that “oil” can bring light into the world as Christ was the light of the world (Gospel of John 8:12). You and I and everyone in between are the lamps, potential lamps, new and old lamps and in all cases the lamps can light up the world, our world, as Christ lit up the world or we can go dry, dry with cynicism and fear and greed, or power and pride and cravings for certainty and security that is just not possible in our world today or was in the time of Jesus unless everyone shares together a common understanding of who we are and what it means to be human. At this point, we see a call to action.
Contrary to common evangelical eschatological interpretations (including books and movies, and mini-series) the end of time should be understood as the end of each of our lives. Jesus was asking us to discern how to bring change in the world to bring the Kingdom of God here and now.
The Action here is “Salvation,” which means healing; we are to act to bring healing to the world, not a rescue from reality or a kind of reward at death; we can heal if we want to; we do heal more than we realize. At least some do; real disciples, real seekers of understanding the difference in being human and the difference it makes. Jesus was asking us to SEE-JUDGE-ACT in the image and likeness of God. You, me, and everyone in between need to keep our oil fresh so we can “marry the bridegroom” and together bring more people to see the light into this world who become “healers” as Christ is a healer.
Are we awake?
Is the community we live in awake?
Are you and me a foolish bridesmaid or a wise one?
We all struggle with the Judge/Discern part; Awakening is often an unpleasant experience because it requires humility. Just think about how hard humility is to practice in the moment. Humility is alive where the rubber meets the road. Waking up is discernment, which involves confronting doubts, prejudices, and fears, engaging in difficult conversations while standing in the unknown, and facing the unknown with humility so that we can act for the greater good of all humans.
Image by Artist: Ain Vares – https://ainvaresart.com