The word virgin is not often used in conversation. Apart from referring to the Blessed Virgin Mary, we do not often speak of virginity. Jesus chose to describe the King of heaven in such terms—as a wedding night.
Jesus is the groom and the Church is the Bride—the Virgin. As we are aware, in the Church there is great variety—the wise and the foolish—just like described in the parable. The lamps give light, which represent Christ. He is the light of the world. Wise people fill themselves with Christ, with His truth, His word, His Sacraments. Foolish folks do not look ahead. They get distracted with the wedding and don’t think about the marriage. Notice how much energy goes into preparing for a wedding. Some people make their living by selling stuff for weddings. Lots of families go into debt because they have to have the plush cushions, the elaborate candle arrangements, the receptions fit for royalty. Weddings are the cause of sleepless nights, especially for the ones who pay the bill. The saddest part is that many do not last. Newlyweds often neglect to prepare for their future. They place more importance on a one-hour ceremony. That’s called confused priorities. The foolish virgins had confused priorities. They got so distracted with the externals that they paid little attention to the essentials—the lamps—the light of Christ. Naturally, the lamps are symbolic. The underlying theme is relationship. The wise virgins had their lamps burning brightly because they knew the Groom. They were focused on the Groom and his place in their life. The foolish virgins were only thinking of themselves. They probably enjoyed the adventure of being in trouble but couldn’t get out of trouble because the door was closed.
As in many mishaps in our life, we bring trouble upon ourselves. Countless blame God or a foreign country or an outer space creature. When things don’t go as we want, we look for someone to blame. The devil gets blamed for lots of stuff and he probably enjoys the publicity. Who’s to blame for the violence in our streets? Who’s responsible for the breakup of families? In the story the foolish virgins did not acknowledge the stupidity of their negligence; but they had to live with the consequences. Indeed, there are always consequences for some of the bad decisions we make and there is no one to blame but ourselves. The world is the one we have made. Yes, God got the whole thing moving once upon a time. But He left us in charge. God did not create pollution, or contaminated rivers or abused children. Everything God made is good. We are the ones who mess things up. However, there is help.
The Church is not only the Bride of Christ, She is also our Mother. Like a good mother, she provides guidance. Therefore, we are not alone on our journey. The Church offers us teachings, guideposts, maps so that we can base our decisions on the light of Christ—so that our lamps can give off light for others to see, especially in our home. Make peace, not war. Listen to each other. Forgive as we want to be forgiven. There are many people who are sad now, many who are happy. When we focus on the Bridegroom and we remember that all life comes from Him, for Him and in Him, then no one can take our happiness away. Powers and principalities of this world will all pass away, but the Bridegroom will not pass away. We want to be like the wise virgins with our lamps burning brightly. We need to be the change that we want to see. After all, the only person we can change is the one in the mirror. We usually want to change everyone around us, but that is very unlikely. What we see is what we get. We need to make peace with the foolishness that we cannot change, only forgive, particularly the foolishness in ourselves. The Bridegroom wants as many of us inside as want to come in. He comes looking for us, even when we want to hide because we have sinned. Each day gives us the opportunity to prepare, to share our Faith, to repent of the wrong we might have done.
The Bridegroom wants to be the center of our life. He feeds us with the Eucharist so that our light will shine. If we are wise, we have nothing to fear.