November 6, 2011: 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
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.’” (Matthew 25:1-13)
It’s important to understand the setting in which this parable was written. First, it was written to the Jewish community and it relates a traditional Jewish wedding story. The marriage custom of Jesus’ day was that the groom would prepare a place for his bride – either his own place or a place at his father’s house. Then the groom would visit the bride’s father at his house. The groom and the bride’s father finalize financial arrangements and, depending on the agreement, this discussion could cause a delay. When the father and the groom have come to an agreement, the groom would then take the bride and return to his father’s house for the marriage banquet, which would lasted seven days. The bridesmaids would join the wedding party on the way back to the groom’s house. If they are with the crowd, they would be able to join in, as part of the procession. If they joined later, it was possible that the door keepers would turn them away because they wouldn’t know who they were.
This story reminds us that Jesus promised to return and as Christians, we need to be prepared. Are we preparing for his return by living our lives faithfully and giving to those who are in need of love, mercy and justice? Are we being Christ to others by loving them unconditionally (no matter what)? As we get ready for the holiday season, let us be thankful for the blessings that we have and prepare ourselves for the coming of Christ (at Christmas) and in the future.