The Wise and the Foolish

Matthew 25: 1-13
1 Thes 4:1-8 / Ps 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.
(Mt. 25:1-2)

In leisure men are prone to sin,
The good life often leads to wrong;
The path of life by discipline
Is what will keep our spirit strong.

“Then 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 ones, 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.’ But they replied, ‘No, 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. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’ But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’ Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour. (Matthew 25:1-13)

Reflection

The Parable of the Ten Virgins can be interpreted in many ways, but the length of messages and lessons 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 trials and darkness.

Life beyond middle age can be a punishing struggle against many kinds of disease, such as the complications of diabetes, arthritis, emphysema and heart disease, to name a few. Only when one prepared well for this eventuality during his younger years with a regular cardio-vascular exercise, avoiding harmful substances such as alcoholic beverages and tobacco, and keeping a healthy, balanced diet can he assure a happier, healthier life in his golden years. If vigilance and preparedness then is so important for one’s retirement age, shouldn’t life eternal be far more worth preparing for even if it takes a 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.

In our times of weakness, Lord, grant us the grace to be steadfast and strong; keep the fire of Your Spirit burning in our mission to spread the Good News of Your kingdom. We acknowledge our weaknesses, and so pray fervently for You to keep the flame of faith burning all the days of our waiting for the Savior’s coming. Amen.

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