HAVING EXHORTED HIS DISCIPLES on the need for prayer and vigilance at all times, Jesus told them two parables illustrating what He had been preaching. One of these, the Parable of the Talents, which teaches thriftiness in the use of God’s graces, is believed to be the same as the Parable of the Gold Pieces, related by Saint Luke (19: 11-28) as having been told at the house of Zacchaeus in Jericho. The other, the Parable of the Ten Virgins, alludes to a common marriage custom among the Jews. The actual wedding ceremony was the introduction of the bride into the home of the groom. In the evening, accompanied by his friends, the future husband came to the home of his fiancée. There he was greeted by a company of her friends (bridesmaids), who then accompanied the young couple in festive procession to the dwelling of the groom, where the marriage feast took place.
Basing a parable on this observance, Jesus said:
“Then will the kingdom of heaven be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went forth to meet the bridegroom and the bride. Five of them were foolish and five wise. But the five foolish, when they took their lamps, took no oil with them, while the wise did take oil in their vessels with the lamps. Then as the bridegroom was long in coming, they all became drowsy and slept. And at midnight a cry arose, ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming, go forth to meet him!’ Then all-those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ The wise answered, saying, ‘Lest there may not be enough for us and for you, go rather to those that sell it, and buy some for yourselves.'”
“Now while they were gone to buy it, the bridegroom came; and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Finally there came also the other virgins, who said, ‘Sir, sir, open the door for us!’ But he answered and said, ‘Amen I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”
Meditation: Christians know that Christ the Bridegroom is coming sometime, but His arrival is long delayed; and so a number neglect their personal, individual preparation. They want to save their souls; they desire to have part in the final, glorious procession of the redeemed and to enter into the joys of the eternal festival, but it all seems a long way off and the pleasures of the world absorb them. Am I among them?
Information from The Life of Christ “Our Lord’s Life with Lesson in His Own Words for Our Life Today” The Catholic Press, Inc. 1959. 219-220. © 1954 edited by Reverend John P. O’Connell, MASTD and Jex Martin, following mainly A Chronological Harmony of the Gospels by Stephen J Hartdegen OFM NIHIL OBSTAT John A McMahon; IMPRIMATUR Samuel Cardinal Stritch, Archbishop of Chicago August 1, 1953. Print. Drawing by Albert H Winkler.