Satan wants you to Disappear! Sermon preached at Chicago Presbytery, November 2014

SERMON –“Satanás quieres que tu desaparescas”

Presbytery of Chicago – November 09, 2014

TEXT: Matthew 25:1-13

1 ‘Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; 4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5 As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. 6 But at midnight there was a shout, “Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.” 7 Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. 8 The foolish said to the wise, “Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.” 9 But the wise replied, “No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.” 10 And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. 11 Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, “Lord, lord, open to us.” 12 But he replied, “Truly I tell you, I do not know you.” 13 Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.


What a joy and privilege to be here today. I want to thank my sister Rev. Barbara Cathey and the whole Chicago Presbytery Multicultural Ministries Team for this opportunity.  I am deeply honored. Thank you all who came here this afternoon to worship together. Our diversity is the strength of the kingdom of God and we must celebrate it, as we must all help each other to be awakened as we continue to walk this journey together.


The title of my sermon today comes from a saying from a wise powerful Hispanic woman named Maria de Jesus Aguilar de Ramos. Senhora Maria de Jesus Aguilar de Ramos is the avuela/grandmother of Georgia Vasquez a wonderful student at McCormick. I never met Dona Maria but one day in class Georgia told us that her grandmother used to tell her beloved ones:

“Satanás quieres que tu desaparescas”

Which means: “Satan wants you to disappear.” I was completely taken by the wisdom of that precious, wise woman. We will get back to this saying later but I want you to remember this:


“Satanás quieres que tu desaparezcas”

“Satan wants you to disappear”


Our text for today is a rather difficult one. The parable of the Ten Bridesmaids is a  part of a whole section of the gospel of Matthew that deals with an eschatological discourse, ways to deal with the present and imagine the future. In other words, the eschatological aspect of our faith has to do with the ways in which we create the conditions of the future by the way we work in the present.


Our parable today is placed among three other difficult parables about the future: the parable of the Fig Tree, the Faithful and the Unfaithful Slave, and the Parable of the Talents. All of these stories reminds us about the necessity to keep vigilance, pointing to the hope of the Christian community which is Christ coming, the parousia of our liberator.


This text has been of significant interest in the history of the church especially as it was used to create Christian hierarchy and spirituality, a Christian identity created over against women. Ivone Reimer, a biblical scholar from Latin America, said that the tendency in the use of this text was to focus on the 5 foolish bridesmaids and to use it as an instrument of discipline to repress women’s desires. This passage has women as the central subjects of the story, which is not often seen in the gospel.


The ten bridesmaids represent the whole community, which for Matthew is a mixed body. These ten bridesmaids can help us understand our reality, our difficulty to believe, the challenges of our waiting and the weight of daily life as fundamental to our perception of God and one another.

The parable is about a wedding, and in the custom of that time, bridesmaids would keep the bride company until the groom arrived,[1]  because nobody knew when the groom was to arrive. Waiting for the groom in this parable is to wait for Christ to come. The wedding, the final meeting between Jesus and us. What permeates the whole context is the conviction that Emanuel, God with us will always be with us and this faithfulness to God and its waiting in anticipation for the kingdom to come is only possible because God is fundamentally present in our lives! That is the key aspect of that passage. To be faithful and ready is only possible because Emanuel, God with us, is indeed with us.  Grace abounds!


The 10 bridesmaids are divided between the foolish and the wise ones. In Greek foolish, Moros, means stupid, nonsensical, and wise is fronimos, meaning prudent, wise. These attributes are not related to our self but to the ways in which we lead our lives, our actions in life.


In the tradition of the first testament, Moros, the foolish ones, are the people who break their communion with God, denying God in their concrete life.  Moros were people who could have faith or hope but they were filled with pride and they didn’t obey the Torah.  Foolish people are the ones whose faith and hope do not influence their lives and their daily lives.  That is why they are foolish.


We have lots of foolish Christians around us, Christians whose Christian faith does not affect their ways of living.


The contemporary foolish ones are the Biblically illiterate, functional atheists, the ones who see prayer almost as an accident in their daily lives, the reading of the Bible a thing that does not really matter and their worship services are more about keeping on time than feeling the presence of the Spirit.


The foolish ones of our times cannot see what is happening in our society, they can’t distinguish the disasters of our days and the need for change. The foolish ones of our time care more for their cell phones and the pristine look of their sanctuaries than the kids of the hood and the “messes” they are/create.


The foolish ones don’t change, they can’t hear the voice of the Spirit so they can change their ways. The foolish ones protect their rituals but don’t care about the hurting. They pour money on buildings but are not aware of poverty.

The foolish ones know their denominational books of order but they don’t know what to do with somebody who has a strong accent or why they need them to actually live. They are aware of the church budgets but they don’t care about the poor.


The foolish ones are disinterested, they take everything for granted. They always had their oil at hand and there is this inner security that they will always have it. What they don’t realize is that the groom might delay a bit and in the meantime they can lose everything they have.  The foolish ones of our times are actually not aware of our times.


As for the wise bridesmaids, fronimos, their wisdom helped them perceive and recognize life and its threats. They had a certain intellectual-theoretical and practical-ethical sense that orients their faith for the sake of a dignified life. Not for the sake of a social custom or a doctrine learned but rather for the sake of life!

They know what are God’s interests and live accordingly. They know God’s interests by the ways in which they perceive their daily lives, the hardships of their families, the challenges posed to them and the ways to respond to it.  They know that faith without practice and practice without faith is stupidity and puts you in danger.


They are ready to do the right thing at the right time in the right place. A person who has fronimos, wisdom, has the ability to discern and act. When their sisters were in need of oil, they were able to offer counsel: we cannot be responsible for your foolishness but hurry, go to the store get more oil, go quickly!


Ivone Reimer says that this kind of wisdom only appears in the parables. This theoretical-practical sense of life, of life’s immediacy and expanded issues, this deep rootedness in the daily life, this sort of wisdom care only in the parables.


The crucial aspect of this wisdom is the ability to live the present life and be prepared for the future. To believe and to have hope, paying attention to the word of God. They are the wise bridesmaids.  The current Latina theology, with Ada Maria Asasi-Dias, Ivone Gebara, Daisy Machado and many others, are the new source of this wisdom for us to live today.


But the parable talks about two other things: there is the light that needs the oil to illuminate. This image is related to what Jesus said: “You are the light of the world.”  The Holy Spirit is the oil that keeps our light shining, illuminating houses, streets, social situations such as Ferguson and the jail systems in this country. A light that keeps illuminating lives, souls and systems, streaming light as a lighthouse in the midst of the dark sea. A light that alleviates fear and insecurity. That is why we are the light of the world: to alleviate fear and cast away insecurity, to propose a new path, a new way of living that protects life from its endless assassins.


The theme of keeping awake is also fundamental in the gospel of Matthew. Christians were living under the idea of the parousia, being careful in prayer and sobriety. To keep awake in life is not only something you do to save your soul but also, you keep awake in order to love somebody with care and devotion.

Only those who are awake in a society of zombies can see and discern what is needed. Only those who are awake can show what it is to live with Jesus day in and day out. The ones who are awake are deeply attached to daily life and pay attention to their beloved ones.

That is when Doña Maria comes in handy to tell her children: “Satanás quieres que tu desaparescas”  / “Satan wants you to disappear.” She loved her kids, and she knew the dangers of life!


The ones who are awake know that it is not easy to stay awake, they know too well the limits of their bodies and actions. And yet, they know they need to be careful in their watching during the day and during the night.  In that sense, to stay awake means to have the oil to keep burning the light. To have the oil is to be prepared for the day and for the night. The oil is God’s source that keeps the community. For us, it is the reading of the Bible, the prayer together, the confession and praxis of faith, the caring for one another, the faithfulness to God and one another, the sharing of life in its fullness. Then we don’t need to be afraid of sleeping or not being prepared, because we are in active expectation, active hope.


For the ones who are vigilant, awake, actively expecting and hoping, they don’t need to be afraid of the time. We know that by the mercy of God we will be part of this wedding, that the bride will come find us and that we will celebrate it fully! The call to a wedding is a call to happiness! We as Christians are called to expect a big party with happiness and joy!

We hope together, because THERE IS a place for us in this world

We believe together, because THERE IS a place for us in this world

Our kids to go school together, we worship together, because THERE IS a place for us in this world

This togetherness, this fighting each other’s battles, is what makes us who we are and create the spaces for us to exsit!


This togetherness doesn’t make us afraid of the time the groom is coming.

This awakened life lived in active expectation is what makes us aware of our possibilities. We won’t be afraid of closed doors because Jesus will open the necessary doors for us. As wise people, not foolish, we will be able to analyze critically why some doors are closing, especially for the poor, and figure out ways to open them again, challenge those who locked them up and even break these doors of arrogance and social exclusion if needed!


We all must work together so that our common oil won’t go away. Instead of blaming the 5 bridesmaids for having lost their oil, let us be a sign of awareness to each other so we can continue to carry God’s oil and be God’s light. Let us help each other to be vigilant and be wise, as if our faith matters!


We are responsible to call each other’s attention. It is at this point that we need to go back fully to Señora Maria de Jesus Aguilar de Ramos. My work here today is to echo’s senora Maria words for us:

“Satanás quieres que tu desaparezcas” / “Satan wants you to disappear”


I didn’t know this woman but one thing I know: She knew how to be vigilant! She knew we needed a space to live and we needed to stand and take this space! She knew we can get tired, and become easy prey for the social and individual vultures that live off of somebody else’s blood. She knew, as Paul said to the Ephesians, that “our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12)


In our society, the rulers and authorities of our time are trying very hard to make the poor and minorities to disappear so they can live without this disturbance! The present darkness is trying to swallow us and take away our voice. Satan wants us to disappear, to make us abdicate our place as legitimate bridesmaids of a diverse kingdom that is here and yet it is coming!


The powers that be are taking away all of our rights as workers! “Satan wants you to disappear”


The powers that be are taking away our jobs! “Satan wants you to disappear”

The economic system based on endless desire that consumes our earth’s ability to survive wants us to make the earth disappear. “Satan wants you to disappear”


The minorities of this country are seen as annoying, taking away from the white people their jobs, their security, their sense of what they believe “America” is. In other words: “Satanás quieres que tu desaparescas”  “Satan wants you to disappear”

Minorities and poor people are also often seen as a disruption and a disturbance in our churches “Satanás quieres que tu desaparescas”  “Satan wants you to disappear.”


But we won’t! We won’t disappear! Because we will be wise and we will be awake, calling each other with help and love so we won’t be like the bridesmaids who had to run for oil at the last minute.


Every time if we sleep too much, some of us will scream: wake up! “Satanás quieres que tu desaparescas”  “Satan wants you to disappear” Occupy your space in the world!


Every time we forget the preciousness of this faith, we will tell each other: “Satanás quieres que tu desaparescas”  “Satan wants you to disappear” Occupy your space in the world!

Every time our society closes the door to our happiness, we will say no! Occupy your space in the world!

Because “Satanás quieres que tu desaparescas”  “Satan wants you to disappear” and we will say no! Occupy your space in the world!


Every time our friends and family close the door to our happiness, we will say no! Because “Satanás quieres que tu desaparescas”  “Satan wants you to disappear” but we will say we will not disappear! Occupy your space in the world!


Every time even our churches close the door to our ways of being, we will say no! Because “Satanás quieres que tu desaparescas”  “Satan wants you to disappear” but we will say we will not disappear! Occupy your space in the world!


The diversity of the Kingdom of God is the diversity of its body! Minorities are the oil that shines the lamp of God’s justice! May our diversity survive! May we occupy our space!


May Señora Maria de Jesus Aguilar de Ramos and her wisdom of daily life forever live in our memories! She occupied her space!


May we never forget that “Satanás quieres que tu desaparescas”  “Satan wants you to disappear!” But we will win against Satan and all of the powers of this world that want us to disappear!

We will occupy our space in the world!! Oh yes we will. In Jesus name!

[1] The interpretation of this text has a lot of influence of Ivone Richter Reimer:

If you want to watch the sermon preached go to:


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