ARE YOU ONE OF THE FOOLISH FIVE?
You must be ready
because the Son of Man will come at an
WE always seem to be in a perpetual state of preparing for something. We spend weeks sometimes months getting ready for social events, trips, school finals, maybe planning a wedding or some other momentous event. We expend a lot of effort, time, thought as well as money getting ready for the multitude of things demanding our attention. And although these events seem important at the time we can barely recall them later as pressing new matters take center stage, becoming the focus of our energy.
AS responsible adults we try to be ready for any catastrophe that may occur by storing food, water, flashlights, first aid supplies and other necessities that may be needed for ourselves and those we love. With the September 11th tragedy last year that cost thousands of lives, we have doubled our efforts to be ready for any emergency to protect our loved ones and ourselves. And so, we have much to prepare for.
BUT our Lord Jesus, in the parable of the 10 Virgins patiently awaiting the bridegrooms arrival, is giving us an urgent message that is even greater and more important to prepare for than all the current issues facing us. He is reminding us to be ready for His coming. Our efforts are in vain if we have not prepared ourselves for eternal life. For what does it matter if we gain the whole world if we lose our souls? Matt16: 26. Christ has warned us to be on guard and make sure our souls are in a state of grace. He speaks of the time when He will return to gather to Himself all those who have been faithful to Him. He tells us to be vigilant, anticipating with joy the fulfillment of Gods promises to His Church. And He wants us to be worthy to receive Him. None of us knows the hour or the day when He will return. The Bible tells in 2Peter3: 10 the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up and then again in Matthew 24:44 Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not expect Him. We must be ever watchful, anticipating with joy the fulfillment of Gods promises to His Church.
Some of us have become complacent in our Christianity. We automatically go to Mass, confession, and communion without fully understanding exactly what we are doing. We have not experienced the full joy or beauty of receiving Gods Sacraments and we sometimes take them as part of a ritual to which we have become accustomed. We must re-assess our spiritual commitment to God, keeping our faith renewed through constant prayer.
IN this parable (Matt25: 1-13 and Luke 12:40), Jesus tells us that five of the ten virgins were wise and brought with them enough oil in their lamps and prudently carried backup oil flasks also; while the other five had oil in their lamps but no reserve. As these ten waited and waited at the gate for the coming of the groom, we can imagine the five foolish virgins with their meager oil supply repeatedly looking at the rapidly diminishing light in their lamps. These five were not terrible people; they were simply unprepared. They took a chance that all would be well. The wise five came ready for the long wait.
THE bridegroom was obviously delayed and the foolish five began to panic for their lamps started to flicker, the flame growing increasingly smaller and smaller because there was only a few drops of oil left. They had not thought ahead, their lamps were not in readiness, and the five wise virgins did not want to share for fear that they too would not have enough. When the foolish five saw that their lamps were going out they rushed out into the streets to purchase oil before the arrival of the bridegroom. Because of the lateness of the hour the market places that were open were scarce. Finally they were able to buy what they needed and with a sigh of relief, they hurried back, but the wise five were not there. The bridegroom had come in their absence and all the guests had gone into the celebration. The large heavy doors were shut tight. Those returning five with their now filled lamps were anguished. They could hear the happy music playing within, the joyous shouts of the dancers, and the energetic clapping of hands from even where they stood outside frantically wondering how they could gain admittance. How frustrated and sad they must have felt. They were too late to get in.
JESUS CHRIST is the bridegroom in this story and is sternly warning us that He will come without warning. It could be in the darkness of night or the sunlight of day. We could be on a vacation, riding around in our fancy cars, cooking the family meals, or maybe even watching television. In the worst scenario we could be in the act of committing a sin. He is paralleling this lesson to us and He is stressing that our souls must be in order at all times in anticipation of His coming. We must be prepared and ready to receive Him. We do not want to be like the five foolish virgins without enough oil. Even though they had spent a long time waiting at the gates they were negligent in the one thing they need most; enough oil in their lamps to spread the light around them, to identify themselves as friends of the bridegroom, and show that they were ready and eager to receive Him. Their motives were good but their foresight was faulty. Sadly when these five had returned for the wedding feast, the door was locked and bolted forever for them. One can visualize them knocking and pounding on the door pleading, Lord, you know us, please open the door! But the answer when it came was, I say to you, I do not know you.
LET us keep our souls in readiness, examining ourselves carefully and regularly for things that will keep us from the Lord. We must be alert and always conscious of our actions, striving to build up our friendship with Christ by following all He has taught us. For we do not know the hour when He will come. We cannot depend on manmade rules to save us, as only Gods rules stand true. Just as we came into this world alone, alone we must die. Our Church can teach and show the way but we ourselves must take responsibility for keeping our lamps filled for His return, keeping our relationship with the Father strong through prayer and actions. No one can loan us the oil of salvation. We must seek it for ourselves. The Church can give us the Sacraments, guide us and point the way but it is a road we alone must decide to travel. Through the gift of Gods free will each of us must make our choices to follow the precepts taught by Jesus Christ.
SOME of us may feel we will never be worthy to enter the Kingdom of Heaven for we all know we fall short of the glory of God. But Christ paid the price to make us worthy. All He asks is that we believe and strive to be what He wants us to be. He does the rest.
AND so, we must be ready. Maybe we have rationalized some of our sins away, but unless we have sought to live the life He has set for us, we will be locked out of the Kingdom of Heaven forever. Although we are not always perfect we know with Gods grace we can endeavor to be as much like Jesus as we possibly can, for He is just a prayer away. And He is always willing to forgive us for our sins so we can begin anew in our faith. We do not want to be like the foolish five who were not fully prepared. We do not want to hear Our Lord say, I do not know you. Go away. We want to be like the wise five so that Christ, the bridegroom of His Church will say, Come in, Come in, my good and faithful brothers and sisters. Come and meet the Father.
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