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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.”

REFLECTION: Foolish… wise

The parable of the Ten Virgins, like the other parables in chapters 24-25 of Mat­thew, is called an eschatological parable as it points to the coming of the glorious Christ at the “end-time.” Common to these parables is the theme of vigilance and readiness, as Christ will come sud­denly, like a thief who comes to break into a house. The Second Coming is not something to fear, for it is like joining the Groom in his wedding. But it is not to be trifled with by neglecting one’s responsibil­ity of waiting.

The message is to “stay awake.” It does not mean to keep one’s eyes open all the time. In fact, all ten virgins become drowsy and fall asleep. But at the cry that the bridegroom is coming, the five wise virgins are ready because they are adequately equipped for the task. They have flasks of oil that prevent their lamps from going out. Oil in this parable signi­fies the good deeds of a person. A person who is “wise” listens to the words of Jesus and acts on them (cf Mt 7:24-25). Nothing can blow away the light of this person’s lamp.

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Lord, may your coming find us ready, our lamps burning.

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SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord,” ST PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: publishing@stpauls.ph; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.