This story throws light on what will happen in the kingdom of heaven: Ten bridesmaids went out with their lamps to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were sensible.
The careless bridesmaids took their lamps as they were, and did not take extra oil. But those who were sensible, took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom delayed, they all grew drowsy and fell asleep.
But at midnight, a cry rang out, ‘The bridegroom is here, come out and meet him!’ All the maidens woke up at once, and trimmed their lamps. Then the foolish ones said to the sensible ones, ‘Give us some oil, for our lamps are going out.’ The sensible ones answered, ‘There may not be enough for us and for you. You had better go to those who sell, and buy some for yourselves.’
When the bridegroom came, the foolish maidens were out buying oil, but those who were ready went with him into the wedding feast, and the doors were shut.
Later the other bridesmaids arrived and called out, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered, ‘Truly I do not know you.’
So stay awake, for you do not know the day nor the hour.
We all know the difference between theory and practice. Theory is all about pure knowledge residing in the mind only. It is about explaining phenomena, making hypotheses, formulating principles, and so on. Practice is all about doing, bringing about concrete results, influencing the world outside the mind. These two things do not necessarily go together. We all know, for example, people who have a Ph.D. in education and do not know how to raise their own children. We know medical doctors who are obese, smoke a lot and never exercise. We know make-up artists who look like un-made beds.
Paul tells us in today’s first reading that God, by saving the world through Christ crucified, simply overlooked the so-called wisdom of the world and instead provided us with the only practical means of salvation that could rescue us from our state of lostness. God did not give us a treatise on how to govern our lives. He sent a man of flesh and blood, a carpenter who died a bloody death on the cross. Yet, this “folly” of his was wiser than all our libraries…
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