As we near the end of the Liturgical year, the focus of our readings shifts to the end times, and the second coming of Jesus. We are told to be ready, because we do not know at what hour the Lord will return in glory. That is the message of the parable that we hear in this weekend’s Gospel.
This Gospel, like many others, challenges our understanding of what Jesus is saying. In the passage, we see Jesus, who constantly taught his disciples to share with those who are in need, praising the five virgins who brought extra oil for not sharing it with the five who did not bring extra oil. Why does Jesus suddenly seem to change his tone? Is there something different at play here?
The answer to these questions lies in our understanding of what the oil represents in the parable. The oil represents the gift of faith, which comes from God. The lamps represent the Light of Christ, given to each of us at Baptism, which we are to keep burning brightly until the Lord comes in glory. It is our faith, perseverance, and good works which provide the oil that keeps that flame burning, ready to meet the Lord when he comes.
The thing about faith is that it cannot be shared with another person. We cannot simply take some of our faith and give it to someone else to help them on their journey. That is why the five virgins could not share their oil. They could not share the faith that they had nourished throughout their lives with someone who had not taken the time to prepare spiritually for the coming of God in glory. And in the end, those who were prepared were welcomed into the banquet, while the unprepared were left outside.
Even though we cannot give faith to others, I think a word of caution is important here: This reality does not excuse us from giving witness to the Gospel through our lives. If we truly understand our call to keep the Light of Christ burning in our lives, then we also recognize that this light can help lead others to encounter God, and receive the gift of faith from him. Are you allowing your light to shine forth into the world is an important part of living out our call to be Disciples of Christ!
I ask you all to keep Edward Czilli in your prayers this week, as he prepares for his Ordination to the Diaconate on Saturday, November 18. Edward will celebrate his first Mass as a Deacon at the Noon Mass at St. Alphonsus on Sunday, November 19. A reception will follow the Mass. Edward, we assure you of our prayers as you begin your service to the Lord as a Deacon!
Sincerely in Christ,
Fr. Steven Huber, CSB