Oil For the Journey
What an intriguing Gospel passage we have this weekend. In the story, ten virgins or bridesmaids are sent to the wedding banquet. Five come ready with extra supplies, but the other five don’t. I did a little bit of research and found some historical context for the parable. The high point of the wedding ceremony at the time of Jesus occurred when the groom, accompanied by his relatives went to the family house of the bride to transfer her to his home. It is here that the rest of the ceremony took place. This moment is the beginning of our Gospel parable.
Ten young women, very likely the groom’s sisters and female cousins, are waiting his return. When the bridegroom came at midnight, they all rose to light their lamps; but only five who had thought ahead and bought extra oil were able to do so. The five without oil begged to borrow from the others, but the wise ones were unwilling to give up their resources because then none of the ten would have enough oil. While the unprepared ones were off buying more oil, the bridegroom arrived and was ushered into the marriage feast, and the door was bolted shut.
The first young girls were prepared for their roles, but the unprepared girls failed to make adequate plans and found themselves closed out of the feast.
One of the main themes of this parable, I believe, is that there is a need for us to be prepared at all times for the
coming of Jesus. We have no idea of the day or the hour when Jesus will return, so our lamps have to be full and ready for the groom to return, so we can participate in our eternal banquet with Jesus and all the saints. So what is the oil for our journey? I believe the oil for the journey is the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Spirit. If the Spirit guides our lives, we will always be ready and prepared for Jesus to come back in glory. Also, throughout our lives, our lamps must continue to burn brightly as another message from this Gospel is the need to evangelize others whom we encounter. Pope Francis, I find is a wonderful guide in evangelization, as he has a loving approach related to the new evangelization. I feel our approach to others is so important. Pope Francis calls us to evangelize with the heart of a shepherd. Catholics today should not just maintain institutions, but should actively seek the lost. The shepherd is never content when his sheep wander away. Mother Teresa spoke of keeping our lamps lit brightly in her own way. The following are her words:
“What are the oil lamps in our lives?
They are the little everyday things:
faithfulness, punctuality, kind words,
thoughtfulness of another person,
the way we are silent at times,
the way we look at things,
the way we speak, the way we act.
Those are the little drops of love
which make it possible for our life of faith to shine brightly.
God bless you all, Deacon Dan MacDonald