||Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13)
THEREFORE, STAY AWAKE, FOR YOU KNOW NEITHER THE DAY NOR THE HOUR
Our readings this Sunday speak to us about the need to be always ready -- for the end of our own life as well as for the end of times when the bridegroom (Jesus) will come in the night. Our readings contrast the wise with the foolish.
Our first reading (Wisdom 6:12-16)
presents the Wisdom God in the feminine sense. Thomas Merton calls it Hagia Sohpia (Greek for Holy Wisdom). Merton says, "She is God-given and God himself as Gift. Sophia in all things is the Divine Life reflected in them." Today's reading is a beautiful poetic depiction of the presence of God as "resplendent and unfading" and "found by those who seek her."
Resplendent and unfading is wisdom, and she is readily perceived by those who love her, and found by those who seek her. She hastens to make herself known in anticipation of their desire; Whoever watches for her at dawn shall not be disappointed, for he shall find her sitting by his gate. For taking thought of wisdom is the perfection of prudence, and whoever for her sake keeps vigil shall quickly be free from care; because she makes her own rounds, seeking those worthy of her, and graciously appears to them in the ways, and meets them with all solicitude.
Our Gospel reading (Matthew 25:1-13)
presents the parable of the ten virgins, representing the Kingdom of God at the final judgement. Five of the virgins were wise and the other five were foolish in not having enough lamp oil for when the bridegroom comes.
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."
In our Epistle reading (1 Thessalonians 4:13-15)
, we learn that hope is not a wish, it is an expectation, founded in our faith and the love that Jesus has for us and us for him.
St. Paul gives us hope in two things: That Christ will come again and that we (and those who have fallen asleep) will rise with him into a new life eternal.
We do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, about those who have fallen asleep, so that you may not grieve like the rest, who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose, so too will God, through Jesus, bring with him those who have fallen asleep. Indeed, we tell you this, on the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will surely not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself, with a word of command, with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God, will come down from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore, console one another with these words.
It is not that the wise virgins were selfish IN not wanting to share the oil from their lamps. It can be said that the oil represents all the good works of mercy and justice and faithfulness required of believers. These good works are not transferable. They can only be acquired by each person through individual acts of love. When the Lord comes at the end of our own life, will we have enough oil in our lamp, enough good works stored to light our way to eternity? This truly separates the wise from the foolish.
to read, reflect and pray on the full readings for Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017