“BE PREPARED” is the motto and theme of the parable about the ten bridesmaids
The center of this parable is the oil. Oil has always been an important part of life. For example, we use it in our cars, at home for cooking, and for medicinal purposes. We use oil in four of the sacraments: Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Orders and the Sacrament of the Sick. Anointing with oil represents the strengthening, healing and enlightening power of the Holy Spirit. Oil also represents good works, faith, spiritual practices, acts of love such as acts of mercy for ourselves and others.etc. Therefore, the core of the parable is about the oil. All ten maidens were ready and had to wait. All of them were also drowsy and all of them slept. All of them heard the sound or shout and all of them got up to light their lamps. Then what happened?
The wise ones took a flask of oil along with them in order to keep their lamps burning. It wasn’t much but it was enough for their vigil, enough for the party, enough for the day or enough for the night. What is most important is how much oil you carry with you. When we have enough oil with us, then we can draw the resources necessary to live our faith-filled life today, tonight and tomorrow as well. The smallest drops of oil are like the small things of daily life: like a simple smile, a handshake, a word of encouragement, a phone call, a card, an embrace, a present, a visit, a financial contribution, a gesture of support, a helping hand, etc. Through these drops of oil or drops of love, we will always be ready to meet the Master of Love any time He returns. Blessed are we who continue to keep these drops of love in our daily life.
The five foolish bridesmaids ran out of oil. They had beautiful containers and very good lamps but sadly they were empty. This is where this parable tells us that sometimes we run out of the strength and power of God’s grace in our life. Our oil can easily run out through our neglect of our spiritual exercises. Therefore, the parable reminds us all that we were filled with oil at our baptism, at our confirmation and at our marriage or ordination. As time goes by, something always seems to come up that prevents us having enough love to meet the day’s challenges. Nevertheless, Jesus reminds us and warns us of the need to keep storing drops of oil needed for every day. Every moment is a beautiful opportunity for our soul to meet the beloved Bridegroom, not out of fear but with joyful hope.
Another lesson this parable teaches us is that there are some things that we cannot borrow from others. We cannot borrow someone else’s faith, grace and spirituality. We are completely responsible for our spiritual condition. It makes no sense for us to blame the world for our failure to prepare our soul to meet our Master when He returns.
It is never too late to discern your vocation about how to serve at the wedding banquet. Whatever our age or state in life there is a way for us to participate in and spread the kingdom of God. The vocation to the religious life or priesthood is best discerned and prepared for in early adulthood. The total commitment and conversion of mind and heart required for total consecration to vowed community life and service, means burning up our superficiality and false sense of self. Love for Jesus is the oil that fuels the fire that purifies us and forges us for service to God and others. This fire is not to be feared. In it, we are cooked into mature disciples and joyous human beings. Through this fire we become part of the feast itself and food for the life of the world with Jesus, our Beloved Bridegroom and master.
By Susai Jesu, OMI
Vocation Team – West