Thursday, August 13, 2009


In our Lord's parable, there are ten virgins--five wise and five foolish--awaiting the arrival of the Bridegroom. After a long wait, they all fall asleep--only to be awakened at midnight by someone crying, "The Bridegroom has arrived!" Abruptly they awaken in the darkness, for their lamps have gone out. Fortunately the wise virgins remembered to bring extra oil, which the foolish ones neglected to do. So the foolish ones ask the wise ones to share their oil, but the wise ones say, "Not so! If we share with you, we may not have enough for ourselves. You'd better go out and buy some oil for yourselves." Which is precisely what they do, but where at that hour could they find a seller of oil willing to sell? Nevertheless, they apparently found the oil somewhere. Unfortunately by the time they returned, the Bridegroom had taken the five wise virgins into the bridal chamber and closed the door. Nor would He open, though the foolish ones pleaded. "I know you not," was all He would say.

"Watch, therefore," says our Lord, "for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of Man cometh." Truly the day of salvation is now, while the door is still open for all who would enter. Truly the door of salvation will close for each of us individually at the moment of our death, and for the whole world when our Lord returns at the end of time to judge the living and the dead. What, then, is the oil in the lamps? A common interpretation of the Church Fathers is that the oil represents the virtues, but I would suggest another way of looking at it: the oil represents our good disposition. Good deeds in themselves, after all, can be merely an outward show of piety, a mask to conceal our inner coldness toward God and one's neighbor. On the other hand, authentic good deeds spring naturally and spontaneously from a good disposition.

The door of salvation opens wide to those who have their hearts in the right place, hearts that our softened by grace and turned toward God in love, ever zealous to do His will. A good heart is ever vigilant lest we lose our way on the path of salvation and fall prey to the Devil's deceptions. Truly we must be on guard at all times and in all places against carelessness and deadly complacency, lest like the foolish virgins we find our lamps burning low on the day of reckoning.

What this means is that we should resolve to live each day as though it were our last, ever fearful that we should find ourselves unexpectantly shut out from the Kingdom. Let us strive to lay aside all worldly distractions and foolish desires and set our hearts on the "one thing needful"--our eternal salvation in God's heavenly Kingdom. Ever beware lest we be cast into that outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

No comments:

Post a Comment