Read 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. Read More…
Meet Sister Eileen Burns
Eileen Burns, SNDdeN, lives and ministers in Lawrence, MA in the USA. Read More…
I picked this parable to reflect upon because for decades I was baffled by it. Could the storyteller really be the same Jesus who says earlier in Matthew 5:42 "Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow"? How could Jesus be calling those who wouldn't share wise? They seemed to me to be selfish and refusing to help the community gathered. How have you felt about this parable? I either ignored it or rejected it! To make matters worse, it is in the same chapter as the story of the last judgment separating the sheep and the goats and "What you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me."
So what is going on? It took me a long time to understand through my own experience and now this parable is one of my favorites! There is oil in each of us and it keeps our inner lights shining. I know there have been many times when I have been guilty of pouring out my oil, my energy and not choosing the time to replenish it through prayer, leisure, friends, nature or sabbath rest. Beauty can feed our souls and whatever our circumstances we can find access to it. We live very busy and hopefully,very giving lives. In order to do that for the span of our lives, we do need to choose a rhythm of giving and replenishing. Perhaps there are days when we have no choice but we need to balance that with careful plans to take time to bask in God's goodness. I know that I also can and do make wise choices.
Surely there are times for all of us when our oil is running low because of life circumstances. We are sick or we are grieving or worried about our circumstances or about someone we love. It is part of the normal span of life that we will all have our share of suffering but some seem to bear more than others. Pain can make us "bitter or better." Others can support us but they cannot do our inner work for us. It is a mystery that some people who carry so many crosses are still vibrant. St. Julie, who knew much suffering herself, said the light of God vivifies us.
Jesus says there were ten women. Five were foolish and five were wise. Five had let their light be snuffed out. Five were radiating light. How is your lamp doing?