Much of modern life operates on the basis of credit. We all borrow something from somebody.  There are occasions when we borrow from our neighbour.  Most people buy their motor cars on an instalment.  Everyone one who owns a house buys it on credit.  Businesses often purchase equipment and supplies with borrowed money.  Borrowing can be a good and useful thing as long as it is not abused.  The economics of the world would simply cease to function without it.  The use of credit does however have its limits.  In terms of money, there is a limit on how much we can borrow.  Even in terms of life, there is a limit on the kind of things that can be borrowed. In this Sunday’s Gospel Jesus tells a story about ten bridesmaids at a wedding.  Five of them were foolish while the other five were sensible.  This distinction became apparent at the point of being prepared.  Their role was to meet the groom with their lighted torches but because of the groom’s delay the torches were running low on fuel.  The five sensible had allowed for such an emergency, the five foolish had not. They tried to borrow some oil but their request was denied.  That refusal seems selfish and uncaring, but it is true to life.  When a crisis comes and our needs are urgent we must depend on our own resources.  Life allows us to borrow from one another in minor things, but in the great moments when we face important issues we have only that which we have brought with us.  Jesus drew a line right down the middle of that wedding party and said “Five of them were foolish while the other five were sensible”.   There is of course a sense in which faith in God is always borrowed, we have not invented it for ourselves, we have learned about God from Scripture.  The Church has preserved that faith and has handed it down to our generation.  We would never have known God at all except for the faith that others had in him.  Our parents may have been the best people on earth and that is a blessing beyond measure.  It gives us an advantage in life that nothing else could give us.  Whatever kind of advantage we may have inherited, it is up to us to shape our own destinies.  Character is not transferable, it cannot be borrowed, not even from ones own family.  We must build it for ourselves. In many ways our lives are inseparably intertwined with the people around us.  We are mutually dependant on one another.  Sharing is caring.  Ours is a shared existence.  What happens to one happens to all.  But there is another sense in which each of us is profoundly alone.  No one can get inside my body and life my life for me.  I must do that for myself.  No one can make my choices for me.  I must make them for myself.  When the time comes for me to die, no one can take my place.  No one can even go with me.  I must make that final journey for myself.  Some things cannot be borrowed.  A final thought would not be complete without one other word, and it is this.  Even in the lonely experiences that we all have to face, we are never truly alone.  There is ANOTHER who walks beside us and lives within us.  His promise is “I am with you always even until the end of time”.            

Fr John