2020-11-0832nd Sunday in Ordinary TimeRev. Msgr. Michael J. Motta, D.Min.

When you first hear the Gospel about the five virgins who do not share their oil with the other five, it seems that they were being selfish. But when you look at the passage more closely you realize that Jesus is talking about being prepared. Five of them were prepared for the arrival of the bridegroom and five were not prepared.

Go back to your school days. Let`s say five students studied for an exam and five did not. The five who did not study for the exam plead with those who studied for the answers. Giving them the answers would be dishonest. It would be cheating. Those who studied have no obligation to share. That is why the Gospel concludes with the idea of being prepared and awake "for you know neither the day nor the hour when you will be tested."

How we prepare ourselves for the afterlife depends on how we live here on earth. What is our relationship with Jesus like? How do we treat other people?

During the month of November, we think about those who have died. We would like to believe that all people, especially those we have known, go to heaven. We do not want to consider the fact that some may be in hell. What is hell anyway? Is it a place or is it a state of existence?

Let me use an analogy that, I hope, proves to be helpful. Suppose that I am your rich uncle and you are a student at a nearby university. I want to take you to the best French restaurant in the area. You humor me by getting all dressed up. But for you, food is Pizza Hut, McDonald`s and Kentucky Fried Chicken. The food is absolutely delicious in the French restaurant but you do not appreciate it. All you can think about is getting out of the restaurant. This gourmet experience is taking too long and the portions of food are too small. You have not developed a taste for fine food. This is like hell for you. Hell is being in the presence of God or Jesus and realizing that you have nothing in common. Isn`t that sad? Hell is like being forced to listen to classical music and having no appreciation for that, either.

Hell is not something that is imposed by God upon you. Hell is something that you bring upon yourself.

Can you imagine having lived a life that is so selfish that the very presence of God is unbearable? Hell is not a place that God sends people to, it is a place people find themselves.

Purgatory is different. The fact is that none of us are perfect. We need some purification. People can confess their sins and be forgiven right up to the very end of their lives but the question remains; are they ready to meet God? Or is some purification needed to remove the effects of sin and selfishness?

Purgatory is the pain of delayed enjoyment. You can see your goal in sight. Someday it will become a reality.

We pray for those in purgatory. We try to help them out. That is what we do at Mass with all of those intentions on the altar. When our friends get to heaven, they pray for us here on earth.

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