Our readings today are about being ready. The first reading is from the Book of Wisdom. “Wisdom” is the spirit of God who fills the world—the Holy Spirit. It says Wisdom will be found by those who seek her, to watch for the Holy Spirit, and our troubles will be gone. Wisdom tells us to be on the alert, and we will find solitude. The key words here are “watch” and “alert.”
The key words are the same in our Gospel. But the bridesmaids are not watching and certainly not alert. So, what happens? While waiting for the groom to come, both the wise and the foolish bridesmaids fall asleep, so some aren’t ready when he shows up. But, falling asleep wasn’t the problem. That’s forgivable. After all, they are human. The problem was that some of them were lazy or complacent, then ran out of oil for their lamps to burn. The parable tells us something about how to live our life in view of the final coming of Christ, and what it means to be ready. But, like the bridesmaids, the problem is not that we fall asleep. The problem comes if we don’t have enough oil when we need it.
The oil in the parable determines who gets to enter the banquet. The banquet represents the joy we receive being in God’s Kingdom. And what is the oil? It’s the good works that we do for others. Jesus is urging us to persevere in doing good works—those works of mercy, justice, faithfulness, and taking care of our neighbor’s basic needs. He uses this parable to explain how we should live the in present age. Jesus leaves no doubt that being ready means hearing the word of God and doing it—and foolishness is failing to do so.
The parable says nothing about when the end of our time is. But, it does say a lot about living in vigilance, patience, readiness, and hope. The point is not that we need to know the hour or the day when destiny might arrive, but we do need the wisdom of being ready. That wisdom is spending time in the present moment—the waiting—to keep our lamps burning brightly with acts of charity, prayer, and the sacraments. Waiting in joyful hope with our hearts open to the goodness, beauty, and truth of our loving God.
That’s Jesus’ message today. Waiting in hope that leads us to Him. The question we must ask ourselves is: “Will we have enough oil to meet Jesus when He comes?” Because, if we don’t await the bridegroom with a full supply of oil—we will not be ready to enter the feast either.