Watch and be ready, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. Matthew 24:42, 44
you have taught us that the night is far spent
and the day is at hand:
keep us awake and alert, watching for your
kingdom, so that when Christ, the bridegroom,
comes we may go out joyfully to meet him,
and with him enter into the marriage feast
that you have prepared for all who truly love you;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the
Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
- Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25
- Psalm 78:1-7
- 1 Thessalonians 4:9-18
- Matthew 25:1-13
- Judges 4:1-10
- Psalm 123
- 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
- Matthew 25:14-30
A Thought to Ponder
Pentecost 23 Matthew 25:1-13
“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.”
“Stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”
These last Sundays of the year focus on the Parousia, the Lord’s return at the end of time. The parable of the bridesmaids, found only in Matthew’s Gospel, is taken from Jesus’ fifth and final discourse in Matthew, the great eschatological discourse.
According to the Palestinian custom, the bridegroom would go to the bride’s house on their wedding day to finalise the marital agreement with his father-in-law. When the bridegroom would return to his own home with his bride, the bridesmaids would meet them as they approached, signalling the beginning of the wedding feast.
The image of the approaching wedding feast is used by Jesus to symbolise his coming at the end of time. Jesus’ return will take many by complete surprise. The love we have for others as evidenced in works of kindness and compassion is the “oil” we store in our lamps waiting for Christ’s return.
Jesus’ parable of the foolish bridesmaids is often played out in our lives when we realise too late that our “lanterns” are empty of the “oil” of responsibility, gratitude, generosity, justice. Our inability to place the common good before our own, our failure to see how our actions affect others, our refusal to accept responsibility for one another extinguishes the light of hope that we thought would never go out.
Too often we fall into the mindset of the five “foolish” bridesmaids of today’s Gospel: We carry on convinced there will always be enough time “later” to make our lives what we want them to be and that there is an unlimited amount of “oil” in our lamps to make it all happen.
You can read the Pew Sheet herePentecost-23-A
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