Wisdom 6: 12-16 1 Thessalonians 4: 13-18 Matthew 25: 1-13
A tour group had ridden elevators to the top of the Empire State Building. At about the 102nd floor, a woman asked the tour guide, “If the cables on this elevator break, do we go up or down?” The tour guide answered, “Well, that depends on how you are living.”
Dear friends! Today’s Gospel passage is situated in the context of Matthew’s discourse on the end times and the second coming of Christ, in chapters 25 and 26. This passage is in the context of Jewish marriage customs of the time. The Bridegroom has gone to the house of the Bride’s father, there he signs the marriage contract and then brings the bride to his own house for the wedding feast. The invited ones joined the procession, which started from the bride’s house and went to the groom’s house, to take part in the week-long celebration. Since the bridegroom might come to the bride’s house unexpectedly, the bridal party had to be ready at any time, with virgins carrying lighted torches and reserve oil in jars. Five of these virgins, who could not welcome the groom’s party, lost their chance to take part in the celebration. They lost not only the opportunity of witnessing the marriage ceremony, but also of participating in the week-long celebration that followed.
The virgins represent the Church that is waiting for Christ’s Second Coming. The bridegroom is Christ. The wedding feast is the great and joyous occasion in which Christ comes for his Church (Rev. 19:9). The delay of the bridegroom corresponds to the delay of the Second Coming. The bridegroom’s arrival in the dark of night is the Second Coming itself. The closing of the door is the final judgment.
This parable has a local meaning as well as a universal meaning. The local meaning is that the foolish virgins represent the “Chosen People of God” who were waiting for the Messiah, but were shut out from the messianic banquet because they were unprepared. The universal meaning is that the five foolish virgins represent those who fail to prepare for the end of their lives.
A Gallup poll revealed that 78% of Americans anticipate going to Heaven. Yet, many of them admit they never pray nor study the Scriptures nor go to church. They confess they only think of themselves. For example in our church community we have around 780 individuals including children but during our October count we noticed only average of 390 people coming for Mass. It is not a good news. We as faithful Catholics help those people to understand the importance of receiving Jesus in the Eucharist. Our conduct today determines our future tomorrow with Christ.
As we draw close to the end of the liturgical year, the church, through the gospel, invites us to contemplate the end – the end of our lives and the end of the world. Like the wise virgins, are we ready with sufficient oil?
i) Oil stands for our personal relationship with God who is the source and power behind our good deeds or “fruit-bearing”. It is not something that one can attain overnight or borrow from someone else, as the foolish virgins attempted to do.
ii) Oil stands for character and Christian values which we cannot buy or borrow.
iii) It stands for “spiritual capital” (our merits) – all that we build up by good works: concern for the needy and acts of justice.
iv) Perhaps, it refers to real Christian faith.
v) Oil is the spirit of reconciliation with others and a willingness to share our lives and its blessings with others.
vi) Oil may also be a generic reference to faithful and obedient discipleship as defined by the whole gospel.
The wise virgins took enough oil to keep their lamps burning. In the same way we should engage and persevere in good works to keep our faith alive. That is the best way to make ourselves ready and prepared for the Lord, no matter when the Lord chooses to come.