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The parable of the ten virgins

Gospel Reading: Mt 25:1-13
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.”

To meet the bridegroom
The disciples of Jesus expect Jesus to return soon after he was taken away from their sight at his ascension.

Although Jesus told them that his coming again in glory – what is called the Parousia – is set by the heavenly Father alone, they pray Marana tha! for the early return of Christ (cf 1 Cor 16:22). Paul reminds his Christian converts that preparing for Jesus’ coming does not mean looking up to the skies waiting for “rapture” but rather “working quietly” as they attend to their needs and those of others. He instructs them that if anyone is unwilling to work, neither should that one eat (cf 2 Thes 3:10).

The parable of the Ten Virgins refers to waiting for the Bridegroom – the glorious Jesus – at his second coming. The role of the virgins is not to stay awake all the time but to be immediately ready when needed. In fact, when the bridegroom is delayed, all of them become drowsy and fall asleep. “Stay awake” (v 13) here means to be adequately prepared for their task. The five virgins prove themselves “wise” by bringing flasks of oil, while the other five act foolishly by neglecting provisions. They then find themselves excluded from the wedding feast that symbolizes the joys of God’s Kingdom.

Will your final encounter with the Lord find you ready and prepared? How do you prepare for your “end-time” here and now?

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