The Wise and the Foolish Virgins

Matthew 25: 1-13
1 Thes 4:1-8 / Psa 97

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.
(Matthew 25:1-2)

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 to His disciples,) “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 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.’ Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.” (Matthew 25: 1-13)

Reflection

In yesterday’s Gospel, Jesus gave the parable of the faithful and the unfaithful servant to cite the importance of vigilance. In today’s parable of the wise and foolish bridesmaids, His lesson is about readiness, of being prepared for the coming of God’s kingdom. It is not enough to be awake and alert; we must also be prepared. 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 suffer the same fate as the damned. The process of salvation entails a long wait, but those who are patient, vigilant and well prepared will be rewarded. Only those filled with the grace of the Holy Spirit are able to sustain their faith.

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 faith, as symbolized by the lamps they carried. But five of them were foolish, lacking a sufficient amount of grace from the Holy Spirit, (the oil). Only those who are wise know that a continuous supply of God’s grace — in the sacraments, prayers, good works, etc. — is necessary to keep the flame of faith burning, especially in times of darkness.

Life after middle age can be a punishing struggle against many kinds of ailments, unless one prepared well for this stage during his younger years by maintaining a regular cardio-vascular exercise, avoiding harmful substances such as alcohol and tobacco, and keeping a healthy, balanced diet. If being prepared is so important for one’s retirement age, 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. Let us heed the warning of the Lord: “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth. Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:34-36)

Father in Heaven, help us to be prepared for the return of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Help us to bring others to Him before He returns. Thank you for opening the door to Your Kingdom to all of us who believe in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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