November 08, 2020
When I was about ten years old, our aunt and my mother were bringing 5 of us kids to spend the weekend in East Arcade. It was in November, right around now. As we drove, the first snow of the season began to fall. For us kids, it could not come soon enough! My aunt who was driving was enjoying the snow, but soon became concerned. And that increased when we arrived at the cottage and the kerosene furnace would not light. The snow fell heavier than ever as night fell and the cottage was only getting colder. We cleared a walkway up to the old General Store at the top of the hill. The store had been closed for years, but its elderly owner, "Mr. Al," lived there alone. All of us kids liked him and his gentle way. And that cold evening he invited the 7 of us into his home. We soon found that he was prepared for as many days as we would need. He served us hot chocolate and marshmallows and then a delicious dinner with ice cream for dessert! He had a place for each of us to sleep with plenty of pillows and fresh sheets. After our first night, Doug, from the farm next door, fixed the furnace at the cottage. And we all moved out, taking with us the memory of this kind man who was prepared for anything, even for all of us on a snowy dark night!
In our Gospel today we hear Jesus telling us to be prepared like the wise virgins were in preparing plenty of oil in advance. Our reading from the book of Wisdom is telling us that Wisdom is there for us to use in living.
Mr. Al was certainly prepared for a winter storm with plenty of food and fuel for warmth. He had acted with wisdom. But the story of Mr. Al goes far beyond being prepared with creature needs like food and fuel. Mr. Al, by his kindness, was preparing himself for his entry into the gates of Heaven! This is exactly Jesus' message to us today. Mr. Al was not only kind to our family in the snowstorm, but all through the year as he let us kids help him plant his garden and gave us candy and so much more! Three years later at the time of his funeral, I was certain that Mr. Al having prepared this way, found the gates of heaven wide open when he arrived!
But that was 50 years ago. Let's look at some more current ways I have seen people here at St. Andrew prepare. Our parishioner, Norbert Czosek went home to the Lord 2 weeks ago. He joins his close friend and also a parishioner, Gene Karp who died a year ago. The two of them led the St. Vincent DePaul Society here at St. Andrew for 30+ years, serving the poor and those in need. They saw to it that Ann Marie Zon and her Nicaragua Mission had what they needed to do their important work. Both of these men and the other members of the St. Vincent DePaul Society were preparing themselves.
Gene's daughter Susan and her husband Tim Labenski will be joining our St. Vincent DePaul Society to continue that good work. There are about 16 others in the parish who have signed on to help out in this organization, many from our Knights of St. John. The decision to reach out a hand to help the poor and those in need as these people have done, well Jesus would call them wise.
I see people donating regularly to our food pantry - wisdom at its best! Gladys Garrison and Judy Trzepkowski are setting up the Giving Tree to lead us all to give. And at home or at work, when you decide to take on a task that no one else wants to do, your wisdom is shining through.
I think that we all have noticed, that when we are helping others, we feel better. This "feeling" is actually lady Wisdom saying, "you have found me! Do more of this!" You and I are built to serve others. This is how we prepare. This is how we employ wisdom to open the door to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Amen