This was my homily at Our Lady of the Annunciation Parish in Queensbury, New York this past weekend.
Almost a hundred years ago a young Yale Professor by the name of Clark Hopkins was chosen to lead a small group of archeologists for a dig in the sands of a remote part of modern day Syria called Dura-Europas. There Hopkins uncovered the oldest-known Christian Church, complete with a Baptistry.
On one wall, to the right of the font, was a fresco depicting the wise and foolish virgins going out to meet the Bridegroom. And it makes sense. Picture, if you will, the freshly washed, white-robed neophyte staring up at the wise and foolish virgins, candles in hand. “Will you be ready,” they seem to ask him, “ready to welcome the bridegroom when he returns?” “Will your lamps be still burning, or will you be left in the darkness, banging on a big locked door?”
When you were baptized, the priest placed a candle into the hand of your father and said to your parents and godparents, “this light is entrusted to you to be kept burning brightly. This child of yours has been enlightened by Christ. He is to walk always as a child of the light. May he keep the flame of faith alive in his heart. When the Lord comes, may he go out to meet him with all the saints in the heavenly kingdom.”
When the Lord returns, will he see your light still burning, or will you be left in the darkness, banging on a big locked door?
It all depends on whether you work hard enough to let that light shine by “treading the path of virtue, [that you] may reach that light which never fails.” The path of those natural virtues by which you are known to be a person of prudence and temperance, wise and just. Those virtues of God’s grace by which you are known as a person of faith, of hope and of love.
And if you do, on the last day the Lord will not have to look up your name in the Book of Life, or have SIRI search for you on his IPad. All he will have to do is look in your heart and know that you were the one who loved him in the poor, the sick, the suffering and forgotten….you were the one who believed the truth of what is right and good and wholesome and pure and you were the one who taught it by the way you lived your life…you were the one who longed to see his face, kneeling and praying and laying the sacrifices of your life upon this altar.
All he’ll have to do is to look within your heart and see that light burning brightly, and he will recognize you as his own, and welcome you home to be with him in perfect peace.