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)
Today’s scripture is a stark reminder that each of us needs to “seize the day.” That becomes even more poignant as we grow older.
Truth is that many of us fall into the category of the five foolish virgins. How so? Let’s start with the meaning of the oil. It represents the joy of following Christ, the light we shine into the world.
And what this parable tells us is that a moment will come in our lives when we will need that oil, and either we will have it or we will not. If the moment comes and we have that joy and light, we will be considered wise. But if the bridegroom comes and we have no oil, we will be considered foolish. The parable is adamant that we should not presume that we can find that oil at the last minute. That is why the bride groom comes at midnight. You see, the foolish virgins always presumed that if they ran out of oil they could go and buy some. We watch in sadness as they go off to do just that in the parable, because we know no one is going to sell them oil at midnight. So, the hard message of today’s parable is that if the moment comes that we need oil and we do not have it, we are unlikely to find it. This is why the parable encourages us to store up the joy and light of Christ today.
We all know that our children are blessings from God. We take delight watching them grow and standing in their love. Of course, there are many things in life we must accomplish. We have to be attentive to our career, to our friends, and to our own need for relaxation. But when the day comes to drive a son or daughter to college for the first time, how wise we will be if we have stored up the oil of that relationship beforehand. On that day we will be wise because we took time with our child, discussed difficult issues, and built up a relationship that will last.
We might be particularly fond of our grandmother and love to visit with her, sharing stories from her childhood and our own. Since grandfather died, she has been living alone. We have planning to spend some time with her. Then the moment comes when we hear that her mind has slipped, and she no longer recognizes people. How foolish we will be in that moment, if we have stored up no oil of light and joy, because now there is no place to buy it.
We might be looking forward with our spouse to retirement, working hard to increase our income, downsizing our house, talking together of trips we will take once work is over. And then the moment comes: an unexpected stroke. We are alone. How wise we will be in that moment, if we have stored up over the years the light and joy of that relationship, the many times we expressed our love and celebrated our blessings together. Even then in the sadness of loss, we will have oil by which we can shine our light into the world.
We never know the hour at which the bridegroom will come. That is why today’s gospel encourages us to store up joy and light today, to express our love to one another now, to celebrate our blessings while we can. Because the time will come when we will need that light and joy, and either we will have it or we will not. But how wise we will be, if when that moment comes, we realize that we have more than enough oil to light our lamps and enter the wedding feast before the door is locked.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus, make me vigilant and attentive to your voice that I may heed your call at all times. May I find joy in your presence and delight in doing your will.”
When the Lord Jesus comes to lead you to his heavenly banquet will you be ready to hear his voice and follow? Our eternal welfare depends on our hearing, and many have trained themselves to not hear. We will not be prepared to meet the Lord, face to face, when he calls us on the day of judgment, unless we listen to him today. The Lord invites us to feast at his heavenly banquet table. Are you ready?