The Gospel according to Matthew (Matthew 25:1-13)
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.”
Opening Prayer: O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy. Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy. Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, so that I love only what is holy. Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy. Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy. Amen.
Encountering Christ: The “ten virgins” in this parable refer to the bridesmaids who were following Jewish tradition by going to the home of the bride to await the coming of the groom for a wedding. This parable is one of a few parables Jesus told that emphasizes the importance of being vigilant in our Christian walk. As the parable goes on, we are told that the groom was delayed and that the bridesmaids fell asleep. Upon waking, the foolish ones had no more oil for their lamps and had to leave to get some more. When they returned, they discovered that the groom had already arrived and that the door was locked. They then knocked and said, “Lord, Lord, open the door for us!” But the reply came to them, “Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.” And they missed out on the wedding celebration.
Traditionally, the “oil” has been understood as a reference to charity. The message is simple. As we prepare to meet our Lord in Heaven, it is not enough to make the claim that we are Christians. We must also produce the good fruit of charity by our actions. Faith must result in charity, otherwise it is not true faith at all.
We should use this parable as a regular source of examination of our lives in regard to the charity we have…or do not have. When you look at your life, can you point to regular acts of charity that flow from your love of God and are bestowed upon others? Charity is not based on your preferences in life. It’s not based on what you feel like doing. Charity is always selfless and sacrificial. It always looks toward the good of the other. How much charity is alive in your life?
Jesus clearly told this parable because He was aware of many who professed a faith in God but did not live the love of God. It’s very easy to live our lives day in and day out, doing what we do because of our personal likes or dislikes. However, it is very difficult to foster true charity within our souls and to regularly choose to love others because it is good for them.
We must work to foster charity, first, in our thoughts. Critical and condemning thoughts must be eliminated, and we must strive to see others as God sees them. Charity must also direct our words. Our words must be encouraging of others, kind, supportive and merciful. Our actions become charitable when we become generous with our time, go out of our way to serve and are diligent in the ways we express our love of others.
This parable spoken from our Lord is much more than a story. It is truth. And the truth is that some will arrive at the day of judgment without the necessary “oil” for their lamps. Take our Lord seriously and examine your life of charity. Where you are lacking, become fervent in your mission to change. In the end, you will be eternally grateful you did.
Closing Prayer: Lord, it is hard for me at times to continue praying when I don’t think you are answering. Give me the fortitude and courage of St. Monica to continue praying and witnessing to you in my life so that my loved ones may one day light their own lamps with oil to see and love you. I believe that my prayer will not be left unanswered and that all will happen in your timing. Amen.
Action: Lord, today by your grace I will take some extra time to pray fervently for the soul I have grown weary praying for.