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 to 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.
In today’s gospel reading the five wise girls had foreseen that the bridegroom might very well be delayed; consequently, they had taken the precaution of providing themselves with a reserve of oil.
What does the oil symbolize in this story? Surely something fundamental to Christian life, since the fact of being without it entails exclusion from the wedding. Perhaps we should be thinking of everything that makes up our preparation for the great encounter with Christ, that is in short a Christian life lived fully in all its demands. It is necessary that the lamp of everyday love, of patient hope, of the steadfast ripening of faith, burn in the depths of the heart.
At the hour of our death, when we will fall asleep for the last time, the lamp of our life must be overfull with the oil of our self-sacrifice, or our services, of our welcome to others, of our love. And then, when our Beloved will come to wake us from that ultimate sleep, we will have quite enough light to follow him into the banquet hall. For the time being, the only wise thing to do is to worry about our lamp: do we pour in it enough oil every day?
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