Are we ready?

The oil in the story represents the light of faith as it applies to good works and charity.  And while there are many things we can do in pursuit of our spiritual life that we can share with others, there are certain things that we can do only for ourselves: things that build up the oil in our own lives — like reading the Scripture, attending Mass, and offering up our daily sacrifices.  No one can do those things for us… and we can’t do them for anyone else.

Something that is becoming more and more evident over these past few weeks is that the parables of Jesus have a twist. And it’s the moment that the twist occurs that Jesus is inviting us to consider in our own lives.  Here’s the twist in our Gospel today: The five wise virgins did not share their oil with the foolish ones.  Why?  I think many of us are wondering why Jesus, the one who constantly calls us out of ourselves, and calls us to consider the needs of those around us, is defending the selfish response of the wise virgins?

As the tv commercials are reminding us, Advent and Christmas, are just around the corner. Advent is the beginning of our new liturgical year.  So during these last weeks of our current liturgical year, the focus of our Gospels is on the end times.  The end times are when Jesus will come again to bring those who have prepared into the Kingdom of heaven.  And that is what our Gospel is about this weekend.  The wise virgins are those who have prepared and are ready to go with Christ into the Kingdom of Heaven.  They are the ones who know Christ. They are the ones that Christ knows.

So why wouldn’t the wise virgins share their oil with the foolish virgins so that more people can go with Christ into the Kingdom of Heaven?

The answer is they cannot give what one needs to do for himself. The wise virgins who have the oil represent a person of faith.  It represents a person who has actively engaged the lord in their life.  Often today, we hear that this person is one who has a personal relationship with Jesus.  I’m sure many of us here know people who struggle with their faith and do not have that relationship with God.  This is something we cannot give totally. We can witness, sure, but at some point, one needs to open his heart and allow an encounter with God to happen through the gift of grace.

The church can offer programs, bible studies, theology on tap, scripture classes, and talks on the sacraments to help each of us learn about our faith.  The Church, also, ought to make the sacraments available; especially baptism, Eucharist, and confessions. But one thing is true about the overall effectiveness of all the programs being offered.  The only way that these things impact our lives, is if we make the decision to go and experience them.  We have to choose that we want to learn more, or that we want our children to be baptized, or that we want to receive Christ’s mercy in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  In other words, there is a response, there is an effort made on our parts, in cooperation with God’s grace, to grow in our Faith – to grow in our spiritual lives.

A question each of us can ask ourselves this weekend is, “How is our prayer life? Do we take the time to pray each day? The first reading helps us to answer why the virgins are wise: “The ‘wise’ virgin’s wisdom is not primarily a human wisdom but a wisdom born of meditation on the mysteries of God and, in this context, specifically on the mysteries of the kingdom.” So the virgins were wise, ready, and prepared because they lived a life meditation and reflection.  They had a personal relationship with Jesus.  Friends, have we done our work – have we developed a relationship with Jesus through an intimate prayer life?

In Christ’s Friendship,

Fr. Stephen

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