Year A: 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Gospel: Matthew 25: 1-13
The Gospel today moves away from the confrontations between Jesus and the elders of the people - and look towards the end times. They begin, in fact, to anticipate Advent as Jesus tells parables which explore what the end of time will be like.
Today, He tells the parable of the wise and foolish bridesmaids. five bridesmaids were foolish and, although they took their lamps to light the way of the bridegroom, they did not think to bring any spare oil. The other five took their lamps but also made sure they had extra oil - just in case.
As the story goes, the bridegroom is delayed and all the bridesmaids drift off to sleep only to be woken by the cry that the bridegroom has arrived. In the flurry that follows, the bridesmaids realise that their oil has begun to run out. Those who brought extra are able to use that - those who did not make provision ask to share it - but there is not enough and they have to go to buy some more.
In their absence the bridegroom arrives and such is the excitement that the wedding party have gone into the celebration and, when the foolish bridesmaids finally arrive, they are seen as gate-crashers rather than guests.
This seems harsh treatment of people who made a simple mistake - but Jesus is almost exaggerating the point to get it across.
He has promised to return - but, at this stage, even he does not know when. The initial expectancy will pass and people will, in effect, “drift off to sleep”. This need not be a problem - if they have made provision for His arrival. If they are relying on leaving it all until the last minute, they may find that there is not enough time.
We do not know when the world will end - or Jesus return - or when we will die and “meet our Maker”. All these dates are hidden from us. We can choose to live in a way that leaves us ready - or not...
The choice is ours - but Jesus is keen to ensure that we know the possible consequences of our choice.
What does it mean for me?
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