Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
There is nothing more important than the kingdom of heaven. Once it has been offered, presented, and given to you, let nothing take it from you. There is nothing that matters except the kingdom of heaven. But such an intense desire for nothing but the kingdom of heaven will force you to make hard decisions in life. The godly pursuit of the kingdom sets “a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, and a man’s foes will be those of his own household.” You will be reviled and mocked, falsely spoken against, endure all sorts of grief and heartache—all because you are striving for the kingdom of heaven. You will be forced to decide between what the world says is necessary for success, and what is necessary for salvation; between what satisfies you now, and what matters most; and between what is comfortable for now, and what truly comforts in the long run. The kingdom of heaven is all that really matters—because only the kingdom of heaven is true and real and sure and lasting in this life, as well as in the life of the world to come.
The kingdom of heaven is the only place where the faithful, both living and departed, gather to feast on the Lamb and hear once again the never-ending mercies of their God. The kingdom is your life, and you should let nothing keep you from it. Likewise, there is nothing that should capture your attention more than when you hear that the Bridegroom is coming. But do not misunderstand: the kingdom of heaven is already a present reality! The Bridegroom is here! The Banquet is ready! The Lamb sits on the throne, surrounded by the faithful! And the angelic choir together with the whole company of heaven is ready to sing, “Holy, holy, holy!”
Don’t let this moment pass you by. This isn’t just practice to get you ready for what is to come. That’s the thinking of the foolish virgins who were so caught up in living that they missed out on Life Himself. They were so focused on what they needed to do that they missed what they needed most. When the Bridegroom arrived and the doors to the kingdom were opened, they were not around. When the Supper was ready to be distributed, they were not in attendance. They can only beat on the door and cry, “Lord, Lord, open to us!” And what is the answer? “I do not know you.” That may sound harsh, but they were doing what they thought was best, not the will of God. “Not everyone who says, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of the heavenly Father.”
And what is the will of the heavenly Father? Look at the five wise virgins. They keep vigil outside the doors of the kingdom, eager to greet the Bridegroom, anticipating both His arrival and the Gospel He serves them. Even when the Bridegroom comes later than they expect, they have prepared by being filled with the oil of faith, for the kingdom of heaven cannot wait for them. The faithful wait in eager expectation for the coming of their Lord.
And these wise are not disappointed in their hope. The Bridegroom does not delay too long. He arrives at the appointed time, here in this place where the kingdom of heaven is already present. This is where the faithful departed gather with the faithful living. This is where the Lord’s kingdom comes. The Bridegroom makes His entrance. He serves His feast. He stands among you. He preaches, forgives, and blesses you, serving Himself to you as your food and drink. The Bridegroom is here, and He brought His Kingdom with Him. Receive Him as He comes to you in His Body and Blood. And as you do so, pray that you may attain to the fullness of His kingdom in the life of the world to come. For Christ is coming soon. Even so, Lord Jesus, come quickly! In the name of the Father and of the Son (†) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always. Amen.