“For all of us, life is a constant call to go forth: from our mother’s womb, from the house where we are born, from infancy to youth, from youth to adulthood, all the way to our going forth from this world,” Pope Francis said on November 3, 2018. “For ministers of the Gospel too, life is in constant movement, as we go forth from our family home to wherever the Church sends us, from one variety of service to another. We are always on the move until we make our final journey.”
The Holy Father’s remarks came in his homily at St. Peter’s Basilica for the reposed of the souls of the cardinals and bishops who died over the course of the past year. Francis referred to the parable of the day’s Gospel, the story of the bridesmaids in the 25th chapter of Matthew:
At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.
The Pope explained that like the bridesmaids, those leading the Church are “going forth” to meet Jesus. And the time of going forth is a time to grow in love, a time to prepare for our encounter with Christ.
“The encounter with Jesus, the Bridegroom who ‘loved the Church and gave himself up for her’ (Eph 5:25), gives meaning and direction to our lives. That and nothing more,” Francis said. “It is the finale that illuminates everything that preceded it. Just as the seeding is judged by the harvest, so the journey of life is shaped by its ultimate goal.”
Continuing with his analogy to the parable, the Pope shared lessons for the faithful to learn from the oil the bridesmaids carried. First, the oil isn’t something impressive and it is hidden in a container. Yet, without it, there can be no light. Likewise in our own lives, the impressive, outward displays are not what really matters.
Second, the oil exists to be consumed. And in a similar matter, the person serving the Church uses up his life for others.
Third, the oil must be prepared. It must be obtained, stored and brought to the feast in sufficient quantity. And the faithful must also prepare for their encounter with the Lord.
“Now is the time for preparation: here and now, day by day, love has to be stored up and fostered,” Francis urged. “Let us ask for grace to renew daily our first love with the Lord (cf. Rev 2:4), lest its flame die out.”
The Holy Father’s Full Homily