This Sunday’s Gospel presents us with the parable of the Ten Maidens (Matthew 25:1-13). The parable centres on a Jewish marital custom whereby, after the period of betrothal, the groom would lead a procession to bring his new wife to their home, and they would celebrate a week-long banquet with family and friends. In the parable, the bridegroom arrives to begin the joyous procession and take his wife to the marriage feast. The foolish maidens who were unprepared and without oil are excluded from the celebration while the wise maidens participate fully. The parable emphasises the need for watchfulness, and being prepared for the coming of God’s Kingdom. The early Church Fathers (e.g. Origen and St Hilary) give us another take on the parable. They say that the bridegroom signifies one’s uncertain life-span – none of us really know the hour of our death and judgement. According to them the lamp is the Christian faith, while the oil represents good works; thus faith without good works is useless (c.f. James 2:17). The Church Fathers remind us that we do not know the day or the hour – it is good to be prepared – now, and always! Minimally, it requires us to strive to live a holy life.
God bless Fr Michael