The wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps.
One day while St. Francis of Assisi was hoeing his garden, another friar came up and asked him, “What would you do if you knew that Jesus were coming again today?” Francis replied, “I would keep hoeing my garden.” Francis could give that answer because he was prepared. He was living his life in such a way that made him ready to meet Jesus whenever he came in glory.
The wise virgins in Jesus’ parable were also prepared. All ten of them, the wise and the foolish alike, fell asleep while they waited for the bridegroom to arrive at his nighttime wedding celebration. But only the wise ones had enough oil in their lamps, and so they were ready to greet him the moment he appeared (Matthew 25:4).
What does the oil in this parable represent? It could be our prayers or the good deeds we do for others. Or it could be the oil of the Holy Spirit. Whatever it is, the wise people are the ones who strive to stay open to the Spirit, who refuse to give up on prayer, and who persist in doing good for the people around them. Jesus promises that anyone who follows the example of the wise women in today’s Gospel will receive the ultimate reward: they will see him face-to-face.
It’s not always easy to be kind and loving to your spouse day in, day out, or to be patient with your children when they’re acting out. You might find it difficult to carve out time for prayer every day or to accept the Spirit’s wisdom and guidance. It takes real effort as well as a generous helping of God’s grace. But every act of love and service, every prayer, every act of trust and faith is like a drop of precious oil in your lamp.
What are you doing until Jesus comes again? If your focus is on loving God and the people in your life, then you’re doing well. Like St. Francis, you’ll be ready for Jesus when he comes again—even if you’re just hoeing your garden when it happens!
“Lord, help me to keep my lamp burning brightly as I wait for your return!”
1 Thessalonians 4:1-8
Psalm 97:1-2, 5-6, 10-12
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