Wise and Foolish Virgins

Mass readings for this Sunday are here.
My first post on this was earlier this week and can be read here.

 Painting by Charles Haslewood Shannon 1919-20.

It looks as if that woman in the bottom left of this painting is on a mobile phone.. Is she ringing out for extra oil or for a pizza delivery ?

I have found there are many perspectives on this enigmatic parable but I was looking for a Catholic theologian  woman's view and I couldn't find any. 
(Hardly surprising they have probably all been banned or suppressed)

One of the common questions raised is why the wise virgins didn't share their oil with the foolish ones !! Good question.

So these are just a few on the parable of the wise and  foolish virgins which I have found useful thrown in with a few drops of my own reflections.

and this offers an alternative to an individualistic perspective:

We acknowledge Your glory, Light of the World,
and we gratefully remember Your saving deeds.
But, when the world grows dark and threatening,
We lose faith and we despair;
When our hopes are delayed,
We grow disappointed and disillusioned;
When love and truth become hard and painful,
We choose expediency and self-interest;
When You seem distant and silent,
We become faithless and lethargic.
Chase from our hearts the darkness, the cynicism and the mocking,
fill our minds with memories of bloody crosses and empty tombs,
fill our ears with echoes of forgiveness,
And fill our lives with reflections of the light of your love
Friedrich Wilhelm Schadow: Detail from The Par...Image via Wikipedia

You call me to wait on You, Lord,
but I get tired of waiting.
Your answers to my prayers,
Your call for me to serve You,
the promise of Your coming Kingdom,
they all seem to take so long.

You tell me to watch for Your coming, Lord,
but I’m not sure how to prepare for…
a thief in the night,
an undisclosed time,
and Your disconcerting habit of secrecy and mystery.

Yet, something inside whispers
that You’re not all that hard to find;
That You’re always coming to me,
and that both the waiting and the watching,
are more about being open to You now,
than about trying not to be surprised in the future.

And so I will keep waiting,
and I’ll try to stay alert,
so that I can catch the glimpses of Your glory
that fill my day, every day.

 John van de Laar from here

A few thoughts

Faith may be a spark that leads us to God.  Faith alone may even start the fire, but in the wider sense the more difficult task in life is to replenish the oil as we go along;  to always continue to keep enough oil to keep the fires burning, especially when the waiting for justice seems so long and far away.

Maybe what the parable is saying is that for many of us the initial oil isn't enough  we run out of oil along the way, we burn out.

It could also be true that the oil is about relationship- it's not something that can be bought or sold or even borrowed and if so that is why the oil can't be shared.

If the foolish virgins had enough faith then maybe they wouldn't have gone out at the last minute to get oil from outside - they would have gone to the bridegroom and admitted they had nothing and trust in the bridegroom to supply what they need.

Would he have let them in then? I don't know...

But I do believe that the primary force shaping us is God's love and the overflow of that love to others is the most important part of our faith.

It's unfortunate that we often wait until the last minute before we see it and do something about it.

There are ways to see the parable as symbolic imagery of what it will be like in a second coming of Christ, the ones that the disciples wrongly thought was imminent and which most of us may dimly view today as being either a recurrent prediction of a Rapture that never quite comes off, or that will take place but in such a very distant future way too hard to comprehend , so it slips into the recesses of our minds and we carry on our lives as normal.

 It is also a parable that could refer to an everyday posture that is required every moment in our lives, not just at the midnight hour !

The “oil in my lamp” refers to the ability to always develop an awareness and attentiveness in every single moment, not just to have a vague watered down  wish but to have and to culture an expectation and hope for God to show up in life.

I know that when God shows even a glimpse it is often in the most mundane events, but with profound effects. 

 Friedrich Wilhelm Schadow: Detail from The Par...Image via Wikipedia
“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour”    so we need to develop a sense of how it is important to have this expectation every moment;  not only in a belief of the second coming of Christ, but also the ways in which God is ever present and is manifested in our ordinary every day lives. 
I know that God  has often opened my eyes to surprise me. The ways in which God's presence happens has always given me a jolt, often upending me completely and , always making me realise just who is in charge of my life !!

As for the judgement of the bridegroom and the closing of the door there are many interpretations. Some people point out that the closing of the door is an anachronism and doesn't fit well with what we know of Christ's continuous giving of chances for forgiveness.

Is it that we just can't face up to the reality that God will judge us ?
Big questions.... I need more oil...

No comments: