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Jesus said to his disciples, ‘The kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a shout, “Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.” Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the wise, “Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.” But the wise replied, “No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.” And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, “Lord, lord, open to us.” But he replied, “Truly I tell you, I do not know you.” Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.’
Yesterday’s reading led me to reflect upon the most productive way in which we might handle the regrets we may have about our words and actions in earlier days. Today we are presented with the issue of being ever-ready for the moment when we will be called to account for all our worldly words and actions … before God himself, at the Last Judgement of all.
Throughout scripture it is made clear that there will be a Last Judgement … a moment when we will be called to account for the way we have used the many gifts that God has bestowed upon us … and God has bestowed much upon us: all the wonders of creation, the capacity to reason, our ability to love and serve, our ability to choose which path to follow through this life. In fact, everything that we call ‘life’ is a gift from our generous and gracious Creator God even if, time and time again, we fail to appreciate that.
The ten bridesmaids in today’s reading can be seen as representing humanity. Jesus divides those ten bridesmaids (the human race) into two groups: those who are faithful and prepared for the end of days, and those who are not. It is made clear that the faithful will, ultimately, be welcomed into the joy of eternal life, while the unfaithful and the unprepared will be turned away, unrecognized by God.
The question for us today is obvious: where do we fit into this parable? Do we keep ourselves ready for Christ’s coming again, or have we followed the path of worldly wisdom and self-gratification?
Many times I hear people speak of their busy lives. Time and time again people apologize for putting their Christian calling at the bottom of their list of priorities. ‘Best’ (!!!) of all, is when people speak of ‘giving Church a rest!’ I have one simple message for all these people … Church doesn’t need a rest!!! The life of faith is relentless, just as it is challenging. Keeping the flame of faith burning should be the first priority of everyone who professes a faith in Jesus Christ … even when it demands that other activities should be set on one side.
Let us pray that we might always hold ourselves in readiness for the moment when our Saviour returns. Let us pray that we might set aside human wisdom and pride, and follow Christ in faithful and consistent humility.