Aug 28 2020 Reflection
Friday 28 August 2020
First Reading: 1 COR 1:17-25
The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.
PS 33:1-2, 4-5, 10-11
Gospel Reading: MT 25:1-13
Today’s Note: Memorial of Saint Augustine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
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.”
Therefore, stay awake. (Mark 25:13)
Jesus’ parables were often deceptively simple—easy for a child to grasp, but with depths of meaning and grace that saints and mystics reveled in. Like an onion, each parable has several layers, and peeling back one layer can reveal another meaning or lesson.
Today’s story of the ten virgins is no exception. Jesus told this story to help people think about what it took to enter “the Kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 25:1). The breaking in of that kingdom can often be unexpected, Jesus warns, and because the five foolish virgins were unprepared, they were kept from entering.
We could spend hours dissecting all the symbolism in this parable, but at its core, it conveys a simple but challenging message: always be prepared. Never let yourself get caught without enough “oil.”
On one level, it may not seem like a big deal to forget your oil—again. Or to show up to work ten minutes late every day. Or always to make time for watching TV but not enough time for prayer. The habits may be deeply ingrained, but every time we give in to them, we become a little more self-centered, and our ability to love God and the people around us diminishes.
Now, we may blame our demanding boss instead of ourselves when we get in trouble for being late to work. Or we may rationalize our lack of time for prayer. But we can imagine the five foolish virgins failing to admit their own folly and instead blaming the five wise ones who wouldn’t share with them. This kind of spiritual blindness and unwillingness to change can prevent us from growing closer to Jesus.
What do you need to do to keep your flask filled with oil? Perhaps you could set your alarm a little earlier so that you are sure to have enough time to pray each morning. Maybe you could give up one night of television each week and offer to volunteer at church. The particulars may vary from person to person and day to day. But what’s important is finding a way to focus your life on God so that he can keep filling you with the “oil” of his love and grace. Because you never know when Jesus might show up!
“Jesus, help me to live a life worthy of you.”