Sister Acts

Jesus said,  “There are indeed eunuchs, who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven. He that can take, let him take it” (19:12)  If it this verse was a movie, it might be  “Of Gods and Men.”

I have an idealized picture of the nunnery.   It’s a combination of Sister Act with Whoopi Goldberg, Sound of Music and  Sidney Poiter in “Lillies of the Field.”     I imagine some nunneries look more like Aubrey Plaza and Allison Brie’s raunchy “The Little Hours.”

C.S. Lewis reportedly said, “Just because you are a great theologian doesn’t mean you are a great Christian.   Mark Galli of Christianity Today recently uncovered Karl Barth long-term affair with his personal secretary.    The same could be said of some monks and nuns.  Jesus, in Matthew 25 makes a sobering observation, if those dedicated to a life of sacrifice risk damnation, what about the rest of us? Peter agrees with Jesus writing,  “If the just man shall scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?” (1 Pet. 4:18).

In Matthew 25, fifty percent of the nuns stay on the straight and narrow, and fifty percent swerve off course.  Vocational people receive the same “lamps” as the rest of us at our baptism.   Our baptismal lamps light our path so that we are equipped to do good works. But according to this parable, not everyone, not even those with a special unction from God continue in good works.

Each morning, believers, as John the Baptist are invited to serve the bridegroom (John 3:29).   Those who rely on faith without works will run out of oil.  St. Thomas Aquinas writes,  “By oil good works are signified.   By good works faith is nourished. Taken in another way, by oil mercy is signified: and in this way Chrysostom speaks. Hence, it is stated in Luke 10:34, that the Samaritan “poured in oil and wine.” By wine severity is signified, and by oil the works of mercy are signified.   Again, by oil interior joy is signified, concerning which it is said: “That he may make the face cheerful with oil” (Ps. 103:15).  According to Origen, by oil holy doctrine is signified “Thy name is as oil poured out” (Cant. 1:2).”

Regardless of how long you serve Christ, there is always a temptation to give in to the laziness of slumber.  When Jesus says, “At midnight there was a cry made” He is referring our death. It is then we will the trumpet or the voice of Christ,   “For the Lord himself shall come down from heaven with commandment and with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God” (1 Thess. 4:15).

Because we do not know the hour when we will hear His voice (John 5:28), Ignatius developed the Daily Examen.    It’s our chance to trim our lamps.   We recall God’s presence throughout the day, we give thanks, we reflect, we ask for forgiveness and God replenishes our oil.

Until you breathe your last, the door is always open.  It’s never too late to go on a journey of faith and meet the bridegroom.   Watch ye therefore, because you know not the day nor the hour 

 

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