Fueling Our Spiritual Lamps
“For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength“ 1 Corinthians 1:25
In today’s Gospel (Matthew 25:1-13) Jesus likens the Kingdom of Heaven to ten virgins, all of whom took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them brought flasks of oil with their lamps while the other five neglected to do so.
The bridegroom was delayed until midnight, so those who were wise enough to bring oil were not forced to make a hasty retreat to the local merchant in order to buy more oil. They were on hand and invited into the banquet upon the bridegroom’s tardy arrival. Those who did not bring oil for their lamps weren’t so fortunate, for we are told that the Lord of the Manor, upon hearing their desperate pleas while knocking at the door long after the wedding banquet began, replied “Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.”
That haunting response may sound familiar, as those words have appeared in similar parables throughout scripture which speak of our need to be prepared for the coming of God. Preparation in this case representing the fostering and continual nurturing of that deep and meaningful relationship with our Father that he so desires to have with each one of us.
The “oil for our lamps”, that which fuels and enlightens our souls thus allowing us to encounter Jesus in an intimate way, can take many forms. The celebration of the Holy Mass, wherein we seek to glorify God by offering him that which he treasures most, his dearly beloved son. The Holy Rosary, which allows us to revisit via sacred contemplation the very mysteries of our faith. Eucharistic Adoration, that tranquil time spent with Jesus where we may go to “gaze upon him, consider him, and contemplate him, as we desire to imitate him” as Saint Clare of Assisi would often say.
In addition to this partial list, Saint Paul in our 1st Reading today (1 Corinthians 1:17-25) goes to great lengths in explaining the power of the cross relative to our need for faith fortification. “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing” Paul tells us “but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the learning of the learned I will set aside.”
It was true that Jews demanded signs and Greeks looked for wisdom, but true believers proclaimed the crucified Christ. They continue to do so today, taking a page from the book of Saint Terese of Lisieux, “performing little tasks with great love.” Yet another example of Jesus placing a higher premium on love over knowledge. It was the great politician, diplomat and author Lew Wallace who said “Riches take wings, comforts vanish, hope withers away, but love stays with us. Love is God.”
Much like the wise virgins in today’s parable, we too must be vigilant in our preparation by embracing and carrying our Cross, by giving thanks to God for sending his only Son to die on his Cross, and by seeking forgiveness for those times we sin, thus putting Jesus back on that Cross.
In doing so, we too will be prepared when the bridegroom Jesus returns for His bride the Church. For as former President of the United States Jimmy Carter once said, “We should live our lives as though Christ was coming this afternoon.”