Matthew 25: 1-13
1 Thes 4:1-8/Ps 97:1-2,5-6,10-12
…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.
Keep watch, we do not know the hour
The Bridegroom comes, and lamps grow dim;
He comes in majesty and pow’r,
Have we prepared ourselves for Him?
(Jesus said), “This is what will happen in the kingdom of heaven. Ten bridesmaids went out with their lamps to meet the bridegroom. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’ ‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’ But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. Later the others also came. ‘Sir! Sir!’ they said. ‘Open the door for us!’ But he replied, ‘I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.’ So, stay awake, for you do not know the day or the hour.” Matthew 25:1-13
The Parable of the Ten Virgins can be interpreted in many ways, and the length of messages and lessons that we can glean from it might be many times longer than the story. First of all, our Lord uses a wedding scene to emphasize the permanence of marriage. Then, unlike previous parables which showed the dichotomy of good and evil, this one presents a distinction between the wise and the foolish, where the foolish share the same fate as the damned. Third, the process of salvation entails a long wait and only those who are patient, vigilant and well-prepared will be rewarded. Finally, it is only by being filled with the Holy Spirit that our faith can be sustained.
God is love, and what better way to present the loving relationship of God with His people than a wedding parable, symbolizing the perpetual covenant of God with His bride, the Church. But our Lord also uses this parable to warn the complacent that simply being members of the church does not guarantee our personal salvation. All the ten virgins shared the same beliefs, symbolized by the lamps they carried. But five of them were foolish, lacking a sufficient outpouring of the Holy Spirit, (the oil). Only those who are wise know that a continuous supply of God’s Spirit is necessary to keep the flame of faith burning, especially in times of turbulence and darkness.
Life beyond middle age can be a punishing struggle against many kinds of disease. That is, unless one prepared well for this eventuality during his younger years by a regular cardio-vascular exercise like jogging, avoiding harmful substances such as alcoholic beverages and tobacco, and keeping a healthy, balanced diet. If vigilance and preparedness then is so important for one’s retirement age, (20 to 30 years?), shouldn’t life eternal be far more worth preparing for even in one’s whole lifetime? Jesus said, “The one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the river burst against that house, it collapsed at once and was completely destroyed.” (Lk.6:49) If we failed to prepare the foundation for a healthy life in our younger years, it is not yet too late to build a better foundation for the life eternal. No one else can build it for us. Salvation is non-transferable. When death comes, there is no second chance.
“The night is advanced, the day is at hand. Let us then throw off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day, not in orgies or drunkenness, not in promiscuity and licentiousness, not in rivalry or jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh.” (Rom.13:12-14) Thank You, Lord God, for Your constant and loving reminders. May Your Holy Spirit fill us with Your grace of wisdom. Amen.