“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 25:6-13
This parable of the ten virgins is unique to Matthew, and it has a couple of lessons for us today.
First, some things cannot be obtained at the last minute, but require time and preparation. The wise virgins in the story demonstrate that; they took time earlier on to procure what they would need for the arrival of the bridegroom. The foolish virgins, on the other hand, perhaps came with what they had already at hand and did not plan ahead for a possible delay, and when the delay occurred, it was too late for them to make the necessary preparations. Speed forward to our day, this can be translated into endless scenarios. A farmer who doesn’t take the necessary time to prepare the ground for the the planting. A student who tries to cram for an exam and runs out of time for review. A parent who wants to instill virtue in their child, but has failed to set a consistent example through the child’s life.
Second, there are some things that cannot be borrowed. Just as the foolish virgins cannot borrow the other virgins’ oil when they needed it badly, neither can we borrow another person’s character that they have cultivated over time, not another’s spiritual strength acquired after long hours of prayer and sacrifice. These are things that we must acquire for ourselves.
It’s easy to see the applications of this parable on a practical level; but this can also happen spiritually, our souls needing time in their preparation to meet God.
What are the occasions you may find yourself unprepared? What are the reasons you are caught unaware? Ask the Lord to help you put things in right order, with the gift of prudence to be like the wise virgins who lived in a state of constant readiness.
May God bless you!