Today’s Gospel reading from Matthew 25 can be a tricky one. Jesus tells His disciples a parable, the message of which He sums up at the end. “Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”
The parable is about ten virgins awaiting a bridegroom in anticipation of a wedding feast. Five of the virgins were wise and brought enough oil with them. The other five were foolish and ran out of oil. The foolish ones begged the wise ones to give them some of their oil, but the wise ones refused. They advised them to go and buy some more. Eventually the foolish ones, who were not prepared, were left out. Many people are confused by the “un-Christian” behavior of the wise virgins. Wouldn’t the nice thing to do be to give some of their oil up? Why were they so stingy, so unconcerned about the others?
First, remember that the one telling the parable is Christ, so this idea of “un-Christian” behavior is ridiculous. The oil represents faith. Faith is intangible. You can't give someone faith like you can give them oil or money or any other tangible good. Faith is a gift freely given by God to be accepted or rejected. The wise virgins had enough faith to see them through. The unwise virgins may have had a little faith, but not enough to get them to the finish line. Let's be sure that our "faith lamps" are full at all times, that we might make it to the end.
Father, we freely accept the gift of faith. Fill us up, that we may make it to the return of your Son. Amen.
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