Jesus often compared the Kingdom of heaven to a wedding. Ten virgins to one groom—not a bad arrangement. Now a days most grooms have trouble keeping up with one bride. Obviously the Gospel was not meant to be taken literally.
Jesus is the groom and all of us are represented by the virgins, some wise, some foolish. Isn’t that the way the world is? Aren’t some people prudent in their behavior while others are dumb? Being prepared indicates wisdom. The oil in the lamps could represent many aspects of the Christian life. Consider that the oil might mean God’s grace, His mercy, His forgiveness. Wise people are those who accept the underserved gift and therefore are ready to embrace and be embraced by the bridegroom. Keep in mind that all the attention is on the bridegroom. Unlike our weddings today where all the attention is on the bride. Wedding stores make a lot more money on what a bride wears than what a groom buys. In the story that Jesus describes, the groom is the center of attention, as well He should be. The Lord wants to be the center of our life—nothing and no one can be more important than He. But we get distracted. We forget. The worries, the job, the failures in our life. We forget for whom we are waiting—why we do what we do. That’s when the dumbness sets in. Imagine that some folks think that it’s more important to go shopping than to come to church on the weekend; or to work in the yard rather than spend time in prayer; to watch TV instead of engaging in conversation with the family. If we are only concerned about ourselves and not the groom, then we will not be prepared.
Being prepared means keeping our eyes on the groom. Look at His life, His example. Jesus lived for others. The Lord associated with notorious sinners. He did not place much importance on what people thought of Him, but rather on doing the Father’s will. Fear was not in His vocabulary because He trusted that the Father would take care of Him. So much of our behavior is governed by fear. Fear stifles our creativity. We are afraid to go out at night; to venture out without a GPS; we are afraid of germs. Consumer propaganda promote fear in order to sell products. 99% of our fears will never happen. When we keep our focus on the groom, there is nothing to fear—our lamps will never go out.
Besides, Jesus does not want us to fear Him, but to love Him. That’s why He used a wedding to symbolize the kingdom of heaven. A wedding is about love, intimate relationship, not fear. Our goal is to be with Christ forever in heaven. Meanwhile, we practice by seeing His face in the least among us. We are privileged to partake of the miracle of the Eucharist, but we also want to be what we eat—we want to be the Body of Christ. The spirit of division, negativity, suspicion is prevalent. We counteract evil with love, starting in our family. Inevitably we hurt one another. Forgiveness is vital to being the Body of Christ, like oil is to a lamp. Without forgiveness there can be no hope. Truth be told, our oil has run low, perhaps reached a dangerously low level, but the oil has been replenished when we are willing to let go of the past, especially our own mistakes. Being wise is about depending on the One who can provide everything. He loves us without conditions.
Only one thing is required, that we love Him in return and that we love each other. A trusting heart is the key to being prepared for the groom.