“Ensuring that our lives, burning with the Lamp of Christ, becomes a constant melody that sings, ‘keep me burning till the end of day…’”
(Based on Wis 6:12-16, 1 Thess 4:13-18 and Mt 25:1-13 – 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time)
One of the common songs that many of us know is…
“Give me oil in my lamp, keep me burning… Keep me burning till the end of day…”
Every Christian is called to become a beacon of light in the darkness…
…. and to be a shining star in the ambience of every night.
The Gospel of the Day too shares this aspect and reminds the aspect of being watchful for the Coming of the Lord.
The Lord presents the parable of the ten virgins…
… with five of them being wise in keeping the lamps ready, with sufficient oils
… and the other five being foolish, in failing to make any efforts to have the lamp lit `
The parable of the Ten Virgins has its setting in a Jewish Wedding.
In the time of our Blessed Lord, the wedding was probably one of the greatest events in a typical Palestinian village or an Israeli town.
This was a time of great social celebration!
All got together…
… friends, relatives, villagers..
It was a time of great festivity, abounding happiness and overflowing celebrations.
A Jewish marriage consisted of three parts or elements:
It was sort of an official contract between the two fathers, who would be giving their son and daughter to each other.
This second element consisted of the friends and family members coming together and the couple making vows and promises that were binding.
This phase onwards, they would be officially considered as husband and wife.
The time after Betrothal lasted up to a year, which was for the bridegroom to prepare a place for his bride – either an addition to his father’s house or to have his own
It was to be his concrete expression of showing his love to her – preparing a home for her and preparing his heart and life for her!
At the end of the time that he needed to get it prepared, he would go to take her and bring her to his place – and they would thereafter, live together.
This third phase, therefore was the fulfilment of the eager longing of the bridegroom and bride, in being together for the rest of their life!
The Wedding set-up that is mentioned in today’s Gospel is this scene of the third phase of the wedding.
This is the climax of the wedding festivity where the bridegroom goes to get his bride.
This was done in a grand procession through the village, so that all in the village could be part of this festivity.
The Ten Virgins (or bridesmaids) who are mentioned in the Gospel Passage, had the role of performing one of the acts of entertainment.
They would have to perform a wedding dance – “torch dance” around the bride and the groom, holding torches.
It would symbolize the light of their love, wishing them a luminous future.
Then the wedding party would go into the house, and the celebration would last for seven long days!
In the parable, it is mentioned that “since the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep” (Mt 25: 5)
It was only when the call that the Bridegroom had arrived was given, that Five of the Virgins realised, that “they brought no oil with them” (Mt 25: 3)
It’s so ironical that the wedding which was such a well-prepared and a long-awaited event, had these five virgins who were so unprepared and so unequipped for the grand moment!
The story of these five virgins who were unprepared (whom our Blessed Lord calls as ‘foolish”) could well be our own stories too…
In the Gospel of St Lk 12:35, we read: “Be ready, dressed for service, AND KEEP YOUR LAMPS LIT…”
To keep our lamps lit – is the reminder and challenge of the Gospel to all of us.
At our Baptism, we all have received the Light of Christ.
This light, is not just to be preserved, but is to be nurtured and fostered daily.
But we live in a world when there are many a winds seeking to put off this light in us.
We live in a world, where there is a strong engulfing of the darkness trying to drown the light in us.
Let’s examine our own lives…
Am I allowing the wind…
… of “losing the focus from God” to put off the light in us?
… of “being focused on one’s own selfish interests” to put off the light in us?
… of “false principles and ideologies” to put off the light in us?
As the saying goes, “We can’t prevent birds from flying over our heads, but we can certainly prevent them from laying a nest on our heads!”
We cannot prevent these winds to rage and hit our lives…
… but we can certainly prevent them from blowing off the Light of Christ in us!
This strength comes from our determination, perseverance & commitment…
But above all, being united with Jesus, the Source of Light…
…. in daily prayer
…. frequent sacraments,
… constant nourishment with the Word of God
… and faithfulness to our daily duties of our vocation and life!
The Book of Wisdom reminds us of the Beauty of Wisdom (= the Lord Himself!), and invites us to seek to possess Wisdom in life:
“Wisdom is radiant and unfading, and She is easily discerned by those who love Her, and is found by those who seek Her. She hastens to make herself known to those who desire Her.
He who rises early to seek Her will have no difficulty, for he will find Her sitting at his gates!” (Wis 6:12-14)
May our lives, burning with the lamp of Christ, become a constant melody of “keep me burning till the end of day…”
God Bless! Live Jesus!
Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “While being ready to fight courageously against great temptations when they come…