Anne O’Brien, Director of Mission at St Agnes’ Catholic Parish, uses the reading for the memorial of St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, whose life we celebrate today. It comes from Matthew’s Gospel (25: 1-13) in which Jesus tells the story of the ten bridesmaids – five foolish and five wise.
The foolish and the wise are often contrasted in the Bible. The foolish are those thought they knew exactly when the groom would arrive so, unlike the wise, they just took enough oil for the wait and discovered that it was not enough. They were left out, not because they were wicked, but because they were caught unprepared for the groom’s arrival. The challenge is to be wise and this is always linked to humility and flexibility.
When listening to this Gospel, Anne says, it made her think that we always need to be ready. We always need to have Jesus with us because in the coming of the kingdom we don’t know the day or the hour. With this in mind, Anne shares a prayer called ‘The Difference’ prayer:
I got up early one morning and rushed into the day.
I had so much to accomplish that I didn’t have time to pray.
Problems just tumbled about me, and heavier came each task.
“Why doesn’t God help me?” I wondered.
He answered, “You didn’t ask,”
I wanted to see joy and beauty, but the day toiled on, gray and bleak.
I wondered why God didn’t show me.
He said, “But you didn’t seek.”
I tried to come into God’s presence.
I used all my keys in the lock.
God gently and lovingly chided, “My child, you didn’t knock.”
I got up early this morning and paused before entering the day.
I had so much to accomplish that I had to take time to pray.
Reflecting on this, Anne says: I always need to be ready. I need to be flexible. I need to have the humility to know that I need Jesus’s help every day. I need to make sure I pray to him at the beginning of every day because for me to be ready to bring the kingdom and to be there waiting, I need his help. I need to be faithful to the practice of prayer.
In closing, Anne asks us to remember to take time to pray.