Jesus told his disciples this parable: “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)
The point of the parable is obviously not about weddings.
Jesus used that imagery as the background to communicate to us how we should be living our life in preparation for the return of Jesus Christ, the Bridegroom, at the end of our life or at the end of the world, whichever comes first. It is about being ready.
Perhaps a better way to understand the Lord’s point is if we consider playing musical chairs. You remember how to play musical chairs, right? You walk around the chairs, carefully situating your self just waiting for the music to stop, hoping that you can get to a chair before a slower person.
Consider Jesus telling the parable of the kids playing musical chairs, and then turning to you and to me and asking, “Where are you going to be when the music stops?”
Jesus wants to make it clear that a time will come when each person is either welcomed into heaven or finds the door barred before them. He wants to warn us so that no one gets left out.
But what about the virgins’ supply of oil? That’s the oil that determines whether we are ready to meet Jesus. We could call it our faith or the Holy Spirit or the grace of God. Whatever it is, it’s something that we can’t borrow from a friend. We have to be prepared with our own supply. Our preparedness to meet the Lord is something that is ultimately only our responsibility. No one can say “Yes” to Christ on my behalf.
So, while the foolish virgins went off to make up for lost and wasted time, “those who were ready” went into the wedding hall and “the door was closed”. All are invited, but not all get inside. All are called but few are among the chosen ones. This is not due to any partiality on the bridegroom’s part but because of the tardiness of some in responding to the invitation. The closed door means that access to Jesus is not automatic or to be altogether taken for granted.
The best way for us to stay alert for the return of the Bridegroom is for us to be ready, with hearts burning with love, for the presence of the Bridegroom NOW. The more we will long to share eternal communion with him. The more we attentively listen to his Word in Sacred Scripture, the more prepared we will be to hear even the softest footsteps of his advent. The more we seek to recognize him in the persons and events of each day, and love and embrace them as we would love and embrace Christ, the more ready we will be ready to embrace Christ when he appears without disguise.
Prayer of The Day
“Help me, Lord, to seek, to find, and to respond to you in every person and every experience of this day.”
There is absolutely no better way to prepare for the final call than, first, to put it completely out of one’s head, and, second, to learn to spend each and every day in the company of Jesus. “I am with you always.”