Home » Gospel Reflections » November 12, 2017: Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Gospel reflection

November 12, 2017: Thirty-second 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.’
Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” (Matthew 25:1-13)


When I taught at the Catholic High School I had completed and framed a puzzle whose content was pictures depicting Jesus’ parables. The wise and foolish virgins with their lamps were there each day. Also present was the school’s mission statement from James 1:22 — the reminder to be doers not just hearers of the word.

I always wanted to tell those wise virgins to love their neighbor and share the oil! They were smart enough to figure out a way to take care of all of them. Over time I came to the realization that the oil for the lamps really symbolizes a preparation that each of us as individuals must make in order to be with God. The wise virgins could only share their ideas on what they were doing and why. A world with free will means that the other virgins have a responsibility to educate themselves. Then they can either choose to listen and heed the advice or to ignore the counsel. The parable illustrates the consequences of ignoring wise counsel.

Have you ever seen kids doing their first debate? Each side screams at the other what “the answer” is. Our world today sometimes seems so stuck in that mode of communication. Read the parable again. Jesus’ imagery reveals the consequences of such superficial dialog. Had those wise virgins simply said, “I am bringing extra oil in case things run late,” the outcome for all would have been different. Jesus calls each of us to assist in sharing wise counsel in our world.


This week give and receive wise counsel. Counsel means examining, then sharing the reasons behind one’s suggestion. When you are receiving advice inquire why the other believes it is true. Dialog like this helps each of us grow. More than that, it helps each of us walk the other home to be with God for eternity.

Share this:

Helen Flavin

Helen Flavin is a Providence Associate. She is a Catholic scientist, educator and writer. Helen received her Ph.D. in Neurochemistry from Boston College. She is a fulltime science teacher. She is a guest columnist for her Diocese’s Catholic Newspaper “The Anchor.” She enjoys volunteering at the local nursing home.

Subscribe to the weekly Gospel reflection

Sign up to receive the weekly Gospel reflection in your inbox each week.

Join us for Taizé Prayer

Settle your soul with prayer, simple music, intentional silence and inspirational readings in person or online.

Learn more

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.