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Jesus is again talking about the kingdom of heaven. He compares it to a wedding banquet, but he also reminds us to be prepared for it when it comes by giving us the parable of the ten virgins.
In ancient times, Jewish weddings were held in the house of the bride’s father. However, like modern times, the arrival of the bridegroom for the wedding was not always on a set schedule. He could arrive early or be delayed. That was particularly true when the bridegroom was traveling to the wedding feast from a great distance. The bridegroom’s ETA for his own wedding was often uncertain.
So, the virgins were waiting for the arrival of the bridegroom so that the wedding feast could begin. They would greet the bridegroom with their burning lamps and lead him into the place of celebration. But the bridegroom was delayed, and it was getting on in the evening. It was becoming dark. Five virgins, the wise ones, had brought enough fuel for the night. Five virgins, the foolish ones, didn’t think ahead and were not prepared. When the bridegroom was said to be near, the virgins began to trim the wicks of their lamps to lead the bridegroom into the celebration. But five of the virgins realized that they didn’t have enough fuel for even a little more time of waiting, so they asked the five with extra fuel to share their oil. But the wise virgins said that they could not, saying, “No, for there may not be enough for us and for you.” The foolish virgins went to town to purchase some oil. In the meantime, the bridegroom arrived, and the celebration began. We read, “Then the door was locked.” And the five foolish virgins, upon returning, found themselves out of luck, without entrance into the wedding banquet. Again, all of this is an allusion to the kingdom of heaven.
So, what does the oil represent that is needed to stay the course, endure the wait for the arrival of Jesus, and that which cannot be given to someone else? Some have said that the oil represents works of charity done out of faith in Jesus that opens one’s heart to the love of God. We must make sure that we do good in this world, always with faith, so that our light will shine when Jesus returns for the great feast of heaven. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus says, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.”
The oil that allows us to light the way for Jesus is the good that we do for others. May we have enough of this oil of compassion and caring to wait for the return of the Lord.
Have a blessed week everyone.