32nd Sunday of OT year A:
In today’s gospel we hear another parable. This time it is the wise women vs. the foolish women. I remember the first time I heard this parable as a child I thought it should have been a parable about sharing. I’m the oldest of 11 kids. So, sharing has always been one of the most important family virtues that can keep peace in the home: we would yell, mom, Nick is eating my candy: make sure you boys share…
But, I don’t think this parable is about sharing, obviously. I think the parable tells us everything we need to know at the beginning. Five were foolish, five were wise. This parable is about what it takes to be wise. We all know the bridegroom is coming. We say every week when we pray our creed that we are awaiting the return of our Savior. Therefore, we want to be the wise ones ready to welcome him when he returns.
So, how to be wise? We need to be prepared. Jesus will come back at some day, at some hour, none of us knows. Further, none of us knows the day when we will die. Rather, we should be prepared to meet Christ at every moment, during every day. Not to be morbid, rather we should be excited to meet our savior when he returns. But, we want to be wise, not foolish.
So, the difference between the wise and the foolish was that the wise had oil. I think that is pretty interesting. I know that in ancient times, oil was considered a source of strength. Wrestlers would put oil on their bodies before matches. When people were sick, they would rub oil on their wounds. Also, oil is used in the bible to be a sign of God’s favor and blessing. Oil was poured on the altar and in the temple. Oil was poured on Aaron and the priests. Oil as produce was a sign of God’s favor, because olive trees took a long time to produce oil.
I find this fascinating. Strength and blessing. What does it mean to be wise, to be prepared? It means to be strong and to be living with God’s blessing. So, if we want to be the wise ones who are ready for the Lord’s coming we need to be strong, we need to live with God’s blessing.
I don’t know about you, but this seems like a pretty good description of the spiritual life. To grow strong by prayer, to know God’s blessings by living in gratitude. If we want to be wise in the Lord and ready to great him, it’s vital to grow in our spiritual life.
But, we should all remember that this is not easy or automatic. There are no shortcuts in the spiritual life. I’m sure when we all read this parable we certainly want to be the wise ones. We don’t want to be locked out of the kingdom of heaven. But, growing in strength and in God’s blessings is a daily process. Being wise is about growing in faith and in prayer.
We should start thinking about it in terms of training. Think about it like exercise. If I want my muscles to be strong, if I want to lift 200 pounds, I can’t do it all at once. But, if I start small, and I make gains over time, eventually there’s almost no limit to how strong my muscles can get. The same is true about our spiritual life. We want to be strong, we want to be wise, we want to be saints. But, we cannot do it all at once. It takes constantly daily commitment. It takes commitment to prayer, commitment to the bible, commitment to service and for living in gratitude.
My friends, none of us knows the day or the hour. Rather, than just hoping we will have the oil we need to welcome Christ, we should see today’s gospel as an inspiring challenge. Are you ready to welcome Christ right now? If not, no better time than now to start your spiritual training.