Friday, August 31, 2018
1) Opening prayer
Father of everlasting goodness,
our origin and guide,
be close to us
and hear the prayers of all who praise You.
Forgive our sins and restore us to life.
Keep us safe in Your love.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
2) Gospel Reading – Matthew 25:1-13
Jesus told his disciples this parable: "The Kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones, when taking their lamps, brought no oil with them, but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps. Since the bridegroom was long delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight, there was a cry, 'Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!' Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.' But the wise ones replied, 'No, for there may not be enough for us and you. Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.' While they went off to buy it, the bridegroom came and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him. Then the door was locked. Afterwards the other virgins came and said, 'Lord, Lord, open the door for us!' But he said in reply, 'Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.' Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour."
• Matthew 25:1ª: The beginning: “At that time”. The parable begins with these words: “At that time”. It is a question of the coming of the Son of Man (cf. Mt 24:37). Nobody knows when this day, this time will come, “not even the angels in Heaven nor the Son himself, but only the Father” (Mt 24:36). The fortune tellers will not succeed in giving an estimate. The Son of Man will come as a surprise, when people least expect Him (Mt 24:44). It can be today, or it can be tomorrow. That is why the last warning of the parable of the ten Virgins is: “Keep watch!” The ten bridesmaids should be prepared for anything that might happen. When the Nazi policemen knocked at the door of the Monastery of the Carmelite Sisters of Echt in the Province of Limburgia, in the Netherlands, Edith Stein, Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, was prepared. She took on the Cross and followed the way to martyrdom in the extermination camp out of love for God and for her people. She was one of the prudent virgins of the parable.
• Matthew 25:1b-4: The ten virgins ready to wait for the bridegroom. The parable begins like this: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like this: ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom.” It is an issue of the bridesmaids who have to accompany the bridegroom to the wedding feast. Because of this, they have to take the lamps with them, to light the way, as well as render the feast more joyful with more light. Five of them were prudent, and five were foolish. This difference is seen in the way in which they prepare themselves for the role that they have to carry out. Together with the lighted lamps, the prudent ones had taken some oil in reserve, preparing themselves in this way for anything which could happen. The foolish ones took only the lamps and they did not think to take some oil in reserve with them.
• Matthew 25:5-7: The unforeseen delay of the arrival of the bridegroom. The bridegroom was late. He had not indicated precisely the hour of his arrival. While waiting, the bridesmaids went to sleep. But the lamps continue to burn and use oil until gradually they burn out. Suddenly, in the middle of the night, there was a cry: “Look! The bridegroom! Go out and meet him!” All the bridesmaids woke up and began to prepare their lamps, which were burning out. They had to put in some of the oil they had brought in reserve so that the lamps would not burn out.
• Matthew 25:8-9: The different reactions to the delay of the bridegroom. It is only now that the foolish bridesmaids become aware that they should have brought some oil in reserve with them. They go to ask the prudent ones, “Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.” The prudent ones are unable to respond to this request, because at that moment what was important was not for the prudent ones to share their oil with the foolish ones, but that they be ready to accompany the bridegroom to the place of the feast. For this reason they advised them, “You had better go to those who sell it and buy some for yourselves.”
• Matthew 25:10-12: The fate of the prudent bridesmaids and that of the foolish ones. The foolish ones followed the advice of the prudent ones and went to buy some oil. During their brief absence the bridegroom arrived. The prudent ones were able to accompany him and to enter the wedding feast with him. But the door was closed behind them. When the others arrived, they knocked at the door and said, “Lord, Lord, open the door for us!” and they received the reply, “In truth I tell you, I do not know you.”
• Matthew 25:13: Jesus final recommendation to all of us. The story of this parable is very simple, and the lesson is obvious: “So stay awake and watch, because you do not know either the day or the hour.” The moral of the story: do not be superficial. Look beyond the present moment, and try to discover the call of God even in the smallest things of life, even the oil which may be lacking in the small light or lamp.
4) Personal questions
• Have you had to think about having oil in reserve for your lamp in your life?
• What does it mean to be prepared? Is it acceptance of God’s will, or interiority, or sacramental, or in/through virtue, or something else, or all of that?
• It is easy with lamps – you either have extra oil or not. How do you evaluate whether you are prepared, or what else there is to do?
• Do you know the life of Saint Edith Stein, Teresa Benedicta of the Cross?
5) Concluding Prayer
I will bless Yahweh at all times,
His praise continually on my lips.
I will praise Yahweh from my heart.
Let the humble hear and rejoice. (Ps 34:1-2)