“Five of them were foolish and five were sensible: the foolish ones did take their lamps, but they brought no oil, whereas the sensible ones took flasks of oil as well as their lamps.”
We can at times be incredibly dim. Amidst every uncertainty in life, there is but one certainty which is that we will all die. One of those uncertainties is that we do not know the hour when death comes calling. Yet we can remain incredibly complacent in our preparations for this eventuality.
“So stay awake for you do not know the day or the hour”
Life can offer us a lot of comforts. Some of us are blessed with a good life; material comforts and happy relationships. So much so that we can afford the luxury of debating how much control we want to hand over to God, how much do we want to live our life according to his blueprint, his wisdom of living in spiritual poverty of being entirely dependent on him. In our comforts we can become spiritually complacent and put God aside as we do not feel a strong need for him.
God remains generous and will continue to pour blessings in our life. Who we are today is due to his generosity. What he has given, he will not take back. That comes only when death opens the door for us to meet him. We need then to be accountable for how we have used all his blessings. The same set of talent we used to climb corporate ladders and build wealth are also talents that can be effectively used to climb the stairway to heaven and build his kingdom here.
We all have a lamp. It is to prepare us for entering the kingdom of heaven for eternity. When the hour cometh for us it must be lighted. This light is the presence of God in our life, the centralization of the Gospel in our values. The oil we use to keep the lamp burning is the lifestyle we embrace. The more we give of ourselves, the more we surrender to the will of God to love our neighbor, the more detached we are from the things of this world, the more the oil is topped up in our flasks.
It is not a contradiction of generosity and selflessness when the five sensible bridesmaids did not want to share their oil with the other five foolish bridesmaids who did not have oil. Much as they may have wanted to, they could not. This oil is the life we have lived with God present in everything we did. Only “I, myself” can produce my own oil to keep my own lamp burning.
We can allow the culture of materialism to shape and decorate our lamps. I don’t think God begrudges us that. We can live a materially comfortable lifestyle, if we are so blessed, but it cannot be devoid of a desire for God that must be reflected in our lifestyle to care beyond ‘self’ and to build his kingdom. “For you my soul is thirsting, O God my God”. This life with its oil must be in our lamp.
“Wisdom is bright, it does not grow dim”. Give me oil in my lamp, keep it burning till the end of day. We may need to wise up.
32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time