Wisdom: Be ready to receive Christ when he comes
We must have once found ourselves in a situation where we suddenly lacked fuel for our cars or generators, for example. Even now, many cars and machines are designed with warning signs of imminent seizure. However, people still run out of fuel. It may also be when we forget or neglect to pay our bills in/on time, or run out of airtime when making an important call. Some of these situations can be very embarrassing.
In today’s gospel, it is not fuel or airtime that is lacking but olive oil. Olive oil was the fuel burnt in lamps in Jesus’ day. At the beginning the five foolish virgins did not really “run out” of oil; they never had it at all.
The bridesmaids in the parable were given an opportunity to be ready for the wedding in the groom’s house later that evening. The groom had already sent word to the bride that the wedding would be later that day. They knew the wedding would take place. But five of them did not bring oil. They had an opportunity during the day to get a supply of oil but they did not bother. Those who were able to anticipate their Oil need are described as wise and those who could not are described as foolish.
The truth is that wisdom is actually very difficult to define. It is the first and highest gifts of the Holy Spirit. It makes the soul responsive to God in the contemplation of divine things. Where faith is a simple knowledge of the articles of Christian belief, wisdom goes on to a certain divine penetration of the truths themselves. Built into wisdom is the element of love, which inspires contemplative reflection on these divine mysteries, rejoices dwelling on them, and directs the mind to judge all things according to their principles. The first reading actually personifies wisdom and it is addressed as a woman who is ready to make herself available to anyone who earnestly goes in search of her.
Wisdom goes beyond mere intelligence. Wisdom is not brilliance; it goes beyond that. It involves a deep clarity of judgement that moves us to speak and act only after listening to God. The Parable of the Virgins make us understand that for a Christian, Wisdom entails being ready to receive Christ any time He comes.
The Gospel’s response to the delay was to insist, nevertheless, that Jesus would return unannounced and unexpected, and to repeat the mantra, “Keep alert, stay awake, be ready!” A wise person, knowing the importance of Jesus in his /her life, will make efforts to be ready every time. Let us therefore pray for the gift of the Holy Spirit to help us understand the importance of Christ in our lives and be ready to receive Him when He comes.
Rev. Fr. Jude Thaddeus Langeh Basebang , cmf
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