‘You know neither the day nor the hour’



I learn from experiences and stories, particularly if there is a relatable aspect to the story. So, it is not surprising that I have long been drawn to Jesus’ use of parables as a form of teaching. I was immediately intrigued when a colleague recently compared the work of Catholic Charities to the parable of the 10 virgins:

“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones, when taking their lamps, brought no oil with them, but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps. Since the bridegroom was long delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight, there was a cry, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out. But the wise ones replied, ‘No, for there may not be enough for us and you. Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’ While they went off to buy it, the bridegroom came and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him. Then the door was locked. Afterwards the other virgins came and said, ‘Lord, Lord, open the door for us! But he said in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour” (Matthew 25: 1-13).

Like the virgins awaiting the groom, we do not know when or where our lives will be dramatically changed. While some people may see this as a gloomy message, I see it as a positive lesson and one filled with hope.  Each day, we have the opportunity to serve the Lord, show our love and compassion to others, and change our ways.

As I reflected on this parable, I could see how this parable reminded my colleague of Catholic Charities. For the hundreds of families that reach out to Catholic Charities each month seeking services through mental-health counseling, job and life-skills training, low-cost immigration services and financial-assistance programs, many did not expect that they would one day have a reason to turn to Catholic Charities. Often, there is an event that triggers this need – loss of a job, an unexpected medical expense or diagnosis, the death of a loved one and multiple other examples. However, our role at Catholic Charities is to stay prepared so that when that need does arise, we are here to serve by providing hope and support.

During the past month, Catholic Charities had a unique opportunity to serve our community. On Aug. 10, an explosion along North Weinbach Avenue on Evansville’s east side affected several households. For those impacted, there was little that could have prepared them for an experience like this. Catholic Charities is just one of multiple agencies and caring neighbors who have worked together to provide support and assistance for those affected. For many families impacted by this explosion, the journey forward will be long, and my prayer is that they remain hopeful. I also hope this experience has enabled them to see the compassion of friends and neighbors, as well as strangers.  I pray that each family receives the support needed as they continue to recover and rebuild.

While experiences like this one are reminders that we do not know the day nor the hour when our lives may be dramatically changed, may these experiences also serve as reminders that we can continue to serve the Lord and prepare ourselves for that day.