Waiting for the Unpredictable Bridegroom

Then the kingdom of heaven shall be compared to ten maidens who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed…..But the wise replied, ‘Perhaps there will not be enough for us and for you; go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast; and the door was shut. Afterward the other maidens came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he replied, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’-Matthew 25:1-12

Waiting is about having a lamp in one hand and oil in the other.

We need the Light to recognize the Bridegroom. We need to know who we are waiting for exactly. The oil is to remind ourselves that He does not come when we expect Him. We need to persevere even nothing seems to be happening. He cannot be domesticated to follow our timetable. He does not come at the time we want Him to show up. It would be foolish to think that we know how and when the bridegroom acts. All we know is that He will act and we have to wait for Him to do it. If we take the initiate and act on His behalf before He comes because we lose patience…then we might end up doing something foolish. We might find ourselves being locked out of a banquet feast.

We never had any profound conversation with Wanderson before. He is an intelligent young man but he is always high on something. Having meaningful interactions was always a challenge. Perhaps drugs is a way of escaping such connections. Whenever he was somber, he lived in a fantasy world. He would tell us that his parents are wealthy people that have many homes all around the city. He told of birthdays and Christmases that were stuff of American TV. It is difficult to imagine that any of this could remotely be true. However, we have been surprised before. Still, I would say that it is our strong opinion that this is mainly make-believe on his part. Nevertheless, we listen to his fantastic tales because it is important for him to have these stories to tell. They help him cope with the harsh reality and loneliness of street life. Besides his incredible stories, we never knew anything about Wanderson. He is a private person. He has a barrier between him and the rest of the world. He is afraid of something. Maybe he is waiting for the right moment to open up. We need to wait for him with our lamps ready and some oil on the side. If anyone is going to open up the heart of this young man, it will definitely be the Bridegroom.

Someone that was helping Wanderson with his documents came up to him and told him that the police were looking for him. We have known him since he was 13. He never was caught for doing anything illegal. The criminal life did not attract him. The person told him that he needed to go to the police station to clarify matters. I was a little confused. Then things became clearer. He is not wanted for a crime. He was reported as a missing person. I asked him if it was his family that made the report. He was sure that it wasn’t his family. We left it at that. He wasn’t in the mood to talk about it.

A few days later, the subject came up again. He revealed that he spent most of his early life in an orphanage. He did not like it there and escaped. He thought it likely that they reported him as missing. Then, he said that it could be his godmother. She was the only person he could think of that would be concerned enough to look for him. For some reason, he wanted to talk this particular day. He was somber. He put away his paint thinner and just wanted to chat with us. Some boy came and asked him for some paint thinner to sniff. Wanderson gently rebuked him and said that he was having a conversation with us. He did not want to be disturbed. I told him that his godmother couldn’t be the one because she wasn’t next of kin. I told him that we cannot go to the police to look for him if anything had happened to him because we are not his next-of-kin. The police will only act when it is a family member. We have to show some documents proving we have custody of him like the orphanage. As I explained this, Wanderson turned around and said, “Well, my father died when I was young so you can adopt me officially.” He smiled as he said this. He did not mean it literally. He likes his freedom too much but it doesn’t mean that these were empty words. They meant something important to him and us as well.

Before we left for the day, Wanderson asked if he could accompany us halfway to our home. We accepted his offer. It was the first time anyone had wanted to do this. We talked about nothing of interest. It wasn’t about the conversation. It was being there with each other. He wanted to be with us alone. For us, it was our invitation to a wedding banquet. The bridegroom has finally arrived. Before we parted ways, he gave us a hug. This was the first time too. Maybe he is not one for deep conversation. He might not be someone who is able to articulate all his thoughts and feelings. However, it doesn’t mean that the Bridegroom cannot come into the life of this young man. I am thankful that the Light of the gospel helped us to see His presence in this young man’s life. I grateful that we had the sense to bring enough oil. It was a long wait but the banquet was worth it.

 

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4 thoughts on “Waiting for the Unpredictable Bridegroom

  1. Dear Stephen, Greetings to you! I have read your stories over the years, and though I occassionally feel the urge to intercede for one of the children you mention, I have never felt a call to pray for them regularly. For some reason only God knows, however, I do feel a call to pray regularly for Wanderson. As I pray for him, I sense how hemed in he is on the inside- both internal and external oppression, and yet there is still hunger and light. There is a longing from the Holy Spirit I sense around Wanderson, and that longing touches my heart. So I am adding him to my prayer list. Please feel free to communicate with me directly if you think there is anything about which I should be praying.

    So grateful for you and Mary and the work God gives you to do!

    +Greg Brewer

    • Thank you, Bishop, your comments. It has always been my prayer and intention that these stories and reflections will be used by the Holy Spirit to connect people to these children. Thank you for being sensitive to the voice of the Holy Spirit. God bless.

  2. Hello Fr. Stephen! My Father is the Rector at St. George in the Villages. My mom and I where just hanging out and she wanted to read this latest reflection of yours to me, since we were talking again about that parable and how it reminded me of of an upcoming family member’s wedding.
    The best way I can describe the way your story about Wanderson made me feel is that it hit me like a ton of bricks. I’m adding this young man to my prayer list immediately and pray that you and your wife with have more meaningful encounters with him. Not to sound trite, but I feel like God has a bigger plan for him.
    With kindest regards,
    Colleen Kelly

    • Colleen, Thank you for your comments. I am glad that you used the word, “encounter” because it fits in well with the parable. We wait for encounters to happen. We cannot make it happen. We have to wait for the Holy Spirit to draw us closer together with Wanderson. I would say that our ministry is a time of waiting for the right moment. I believe that God has a special plan for this young man too. God bless.

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