32ND SUNDAY ORDINARY TIME – A
We have now come to the last three Sundays of the year and the readings prepare the Church towards the Second Coming of Christ which we call the Parousia.
The gospel this Sunday is the parable of the ten virgins who were bridesmaids in a wedding. The covenant relationship between God and Israel has always been depicted through a wedding. Let us now take a look at the Jewish wedding as shown in the parable. The wedding takes place after dawn so it was normally dark. The bride usually awaits for the groom to fetch her and bring her to his house through a procession. There are usually ten bridesmaids who are the closest friends of the bride and are assigned to bring lamps to guide the procession of the families of the bride and the groom together with the guests. It was during this procession that those invited to the wedding would bring their gifts usually things in the kitchen and food. When they reach the house of the groom, the wedding starts which is followed by a banquet until late evening. (You can see more details of a Jewish wedding scene in the movie “Fiddler on the Roof”.)
In the parable, five of the bridesmaids were wise because they prepared enough oil for their lamps while the other five were foolish by not bringing enough oil. The coming of the groom was delayed with an unknown reason. When the foolish bridesmaids ran out of oil they tried to ask from the wise bridesmaids who refused because their oil was just enough for them. When the foolish ones went to buy oil, the groom came and it was too late for them to join the wedding procession. When the door of the groom’s house was shut off, they were not allowed to enter simply because they were not prepared to do their task.
In the allegory, the ten bridesmaids represent the Christians who responded positively to the invitation in the wedding between Christ who was the groom and the Church which was the bride. The time of waiting is the lifespan of each Christian before the Second Coming of Christ. The lamp represents faith and the oil is the work of charity. The delay of the bridegroom and his coming late in the evening suggest that he is the one in charge of time. When the door is closed, there will be people not allowed entrance to the heavenly banquet as a consequence of their personal choice.
To be a Christian is both a gift and responsibility. It is not enough to say “Yes” to God as we profess our belief, as it is an easy thing to do. But to live the faith through concrete acts of good works is the challenge of faith. We all are living under a borrowed time; the present is a precious gift from God. It is when God becomes manifest in the “eternal now”. It is called sacramental waiting wherein each moment is an opportunity to do good to others rather than just passively waiting for the last tick of the clock without doing anything.
We do not need a wake up call from God like an horrible accident or sickness like cancer just to realize that we don’t have all the time to ourselves. There are people who think that they have all the time in the world just because they are young and able. They are those who take life as if they are in control and live the way they want it without the norms of religion and morality.
As time is running out, it is good to ask ourselves “How much oil do I have?”
Note: You can visit my other blog to read the poetograph WAITING