Monday, November 7, 2011

The Wise and the Foolish

32nd Sun. Year A
Mt 25,1-13
On Sunday, Jesus tells us the familiar parable of the Ten Bridesmaids. Five are prudent, bringing oil for their lamps and five are foolish, neglecting to bring the essential fuel for their own lamps. When the bridegroom finally arrives after a long delay, the foolish ladies ask the prudent ones for some oil, but are told there will not be enough to go around so they had better buy some for themselves. Of course, oil is hard to come by at midnight, so by the time the foolish get back the door to the feast is barred and they are on the wrong side. Our Lord’s parables always have surprising elements in them which are designed to make us wonder. I would like to focus on the attitude of the prudent bridesmaids. At first glance, it seemed to me that although they might be prudent, they certainly were not very nice. Why didn’t they share their oil so that the others could at least get into the wedding feast? The answer is that no matter how nice we are, how much we may love, how ardently we want our loved ones to come close to God, to live a virtuous life, to indeed be ready to enter the Kingdom of Heaven when the Lord comes, we just cannot do that for them. Everyone must take ultimate responsibility for their own lives. This is the dignity of the human person and the terrible choice for each one’s free will. We can teach, we can give good example, we can encourage, but we cannot give our own relationship with God to another. Every good parent of a wayward child knows this sad truth. Oil often symbolizes the Holy Spirit in Sacred Scripture. Each one of us must choose to allow the lamp of the heart to be filled with this Blessed Oil so that it may be enkindled with the fire of His love. If the Bridegroom delays, it is so that we have more time to get ready for His feast. Let us be wise and choose well. And let us pray for those who neglect their opportunity.

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