Troublesome Topic: Parable #1 The Ten Virgins Mt 25:1-13

This parable tells of the arrival of a wedding day. Everyone who knew the engaged couple knew that there would be a wedding, but they did not know what day it would be, so they had to be ready. In this case there were 10 virgins who wanted to be a part of the wedding procession and the wedding feast, so they kept their lamps close at hand and a flask of extra oil to burn in their lamps. However, five of them were careless and let their supply of oil run out. This situation may have presented itself just once, but I favor the idea that it happened several times because they were careless by nature. The longer they waited the more careless they became. Finally the word came that everyone who was invited should go immediately and join the wedding procession, but because of their carelessness, five of them were not ready. No one could help them out of their dilemma, and they were not allowed to arrive late. They had missed their opportunity.

In the days of Jesus, when a young man who was engaged to be married to a young woman finished building and furnishing his apartment, which was attached to his parents house, his father would determine that the time had come for the wedding feast to begin. At that time, runners would be sent to take the invitation to everyone who was expected to come. As soon as it was feasible, the wedding procession would make its way through the streets of the village or town, gathering invited participants as it moved along. Apparently, there was great importance placed on being part of the wedding procession itself, because the procession played a key role in allowing the community itself to affirm the union of this man and this woman. If one did not participate in the procession, but showed up later to get some food, he was not allowed in; he was turned away.

There could be quite a variance in time between the arrival of the messenger and the arrival of the wedding procession. It could be minutes, or it could be hours. We should not make too much of that variance, but seek the primary message being communicated by this parable. The message of this parable is this: “You don’t know exactly when it will be ‘time;’ it may be soon, or maybe it will be a long time from now. Just be prepared. In this parable, some virgins remained ready all the time, some did not. We should stay ready all the time by being obedient to God.

How did being prepared apply to the twelve disciples of Jesus? Their preparation took the form of having an open mind about how the Messiah would act rather than assuming he would act in the way that their tradition had taught them. For us being prepared means living a life that is guided by God’s word so that on that day we will be among the rewarded, not among the punished.

The next lesson is: Parable #2 The Talents Mt 25:14-30