Saturday, January 17, 2009
Wise and foolish bridesmaids
"Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a shout, 'Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.' Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.' But the wise replied, 'No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.' And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, 'Lord, lord, open to us.' But he replied, 'Truly I tell you, I do not know you.' Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.
Comments: For Matthew, one of the important aspects of Jesus’ ministry is his teaching about the coming new age when God will reign. The story of the wise and foolish women is one of those parables. The purpose of this story is for followers of Jesus to be spiritually prepared for the coming of God. For Matthew, there is punishment for those who are not ready. This parable is found only in Mt. In it Mt is dealing with the problem that Jesus has not returned. He is trying to remind people that God will not return in ordinary time (Gk chronos).
In my experience Christ comes into my heart not when I am waiting, but often in hindsight. The Ah-ha experience of the Divine Presence is not something that I can stay up and wait for. It is something that just happens and I need to be willing to see it as an experience of God. This means that I need to have at my disposal enough knowledge of faith so that I can see Christ’s ‘breaking through’ into my life for what it is. It is a kind of spiritual ‘be prepared’.