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  Word To Life


Sunday Scripture Readings, Nov. 6, 2011

By Sharon K. Perkins
Catholic News Service

November 6, Thirty-second Sunday Ordinary Time

Cycle A. Readings:

1) Wisdom 6:12-16

Psalm 63:2-8

2) 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Gospel: Matthew 25:1-13

This past summer, parts of the southern United States suffered through an extended period of drought compounded by a record-breaking heat wave, replacing once-green landscapes with waterless lakes and sun-scorched vegetation.

In some places, wildfires raged through hundreds of thousands of acres of both rangeland and populated towns. If not for water reservoirs in the area, the effects of the drought would have been even more dire.

After months of praying for relief and anxiously scanning the horizon for dark clouds, I rejoiced -- along with many others -- to welcome a long-overdue thunderstorm bringing much-needed moisture to the land that had undergone so much stress.

In retrospect, I reflected on the way that prolonged stress in our lives often has the same kinds of effects as the drought had on the land, especially when we're unprepared for it. I can be humming along self-sufficiently, confident in my ability to handle the various challenges of daily life, when something -- usually several things at once -- comes along and knocks me for a loop.

Before long, my energy is depleted, and I find myself prone to fatigue, absent-mindedness and depression. Even my ability to pray feels "dried up," and, like those five foolish bridesmaids in the Gospel, I'm left standing in the dark with an empty lamp.

It's is times like these that I am reminded of the snare that self-sufficiency can become -- when I think I am and always will be enough for whatever comes my way.

Unexpected trials come to everyone, but the difference between utter depletion and hopeful endurance usually depends on the reservoir of prayerful trust in God that one nurtures and guards during the more tranquil times in one's life.

Being "knocked for a loop" is a lesson in humility, prompting me to replenish my spiritual lamp often lest it burn out. Those periods of drought encourage me to keep searching the horizon for the Lord's refreshing presence. And when I seek the Lord as one seeks for wisdom, I am not disappointed, for as "wisdom sits by the gate to be found at dawn," I find the Lord is very near.

QUESTIONS:

Recount a time of personal crisis in which you experienced desolation and dryness. How can you avert the self-sufficiency that leads to emptiness? How can you build a spiritual reservoir of hope and trust?

SCRIPTURE TO BE ILLUSTRATED:

"For you my flesh pines and my soul thirsts like the earth, parched, lifeless and without water" (Psalm 63:2).

END



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