Brother Loren Beaudry, MM, on mission in Tanzania, considers how this week's readings call us to live our lives wisely and in light of God's faithfulness.
In today’s first reading from the Book of Wisdom, we are invited to reflect on how beneficial wisdom is in our daily lives. Once learned, it is never forgotten. We are reminded that wisdom is easily found by those who seek her. Wisdom is up early in the mornings waiting for us to put her to use. The reading affirms to us that those who reflect on wisdom are those who are free from worry.
The second reading, from Thessalonians, encourages us to have faith in life after death, “for if we believe that Jesus died and rose, God will bring forth with him from the dead those also who have fallen asleep believing in him.” Jesus’s death and resurrection shows us that if we have faith in Jesus and listen to his teachings, we can be assured we will be with Him in paradise.
In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus reminds us that we should be prepared “for we do not know the day or the hour” when we will be called to leave this world. In the story of the bridesmaids, the five foolish bridesmaids do not carry extra oil for their torches, figuring that the bridegroom will arrive on time. The five sensible ones anticipate that the bridegroom might be late and are prepared with extra oil. As it turns out, the sensible ones were right. The bridegroom was late. The sensible ones were ready and were able to attend the wedding feast. The foolish ones, on the other hand, had to run to the market to buy more oil. When they returned, the celebration had already begun and the entry to the celebration was locked. They were not allowed to enter the celebration.
The readings for this week are rich in lessons that can be seen playing out in the daily lives of the Tanzanians with whom I work. In Tanzanian culture, people acknowledge that senior citizens are full of wisdom and are to be respected. Their many years of living have taught the elders the many ins and outs of life. The elders are always ready to share their experiences, allowing the younger generations to avoid some of the failures and hardships that they themselves had to endure.
The Tanzanians I know are also strong in their faith. As Tanzanians will acknowledge, everything relies not on their will, but on the will of God. For example, on saying goodbye to a certain family, not sure if we will meet again, a Tanzanian’s response to my farewell is, “If God wills it, we will meet again.” Similarly, if there is an upcoming event with much uncertainty, Tanzanians often express their strong belief in a Superior Being by saying, “God will take care of it.” Tanzanians are a people with a strong faith in God.
Jesus reminds us that in order to be prepared for our new life to come, we need to prepare for our death. Jesus tells us how to do that in Matthew 6:19-21 when he says “Do not lay up for yourselves an earthly treasure. Moths and rust corrode; thieves break in and steal. Make it your practice instead to store up heavenly treasure, which neither moths nor rust corrode nor thieves break in and steal. Remember, where your treasure is, there your heart is also.”
Tanzanians are religious people. On a Friday afternoon mosques can be seen full of worshippers, and churches are full of singing, dancing, and prayer throughout the weekend. In Mwanza alone, where I live, mosques, churches, Hindu and Sikh temples all populate the city. Participating with the local community by sharing God’s word helps the Tanzanians store up treasures that cannot rust away or be stolen.
Photo: Tanzanians at Mass, courtesy of Bro. Loren Beaudry, MM.