I have always loved this parable. It’s easy to picture the scene and to feel the excitement as the bridegroom is awaited. Commentators don’t seem to be able to agree as to whether the women were carrying lamps or torches. Either way their job to be ready and to light the path.
As we come to the close of the liturgical year the Church draws our attention to the path that we all walk and to the hope that we all share that Christ will come again. While the Early Church believed this to be imminent, we usually hold this idea rather lightly. Advent will sharpen this focus as we watch and wait.
Both watching and waiting are activities close to the monastic’s heart. The rhythm of our days is cycle after cycle of watching and waiting. Largely its the daily things that occupy our hearts and minds. St Benedict invites us to remind ourselves day by day that we are going to die and hour by hour to keep watch over what we do. For St Benedict this will keep us in a spirit of preparedness.
Commenting on this parable, Australian Sr Verna Holyhead says:
Although this parable is primarily concerned with what lies behind the as yet closed doors of the end of cosmic history and Christ’s Second Coming, the Bridegroom will also come to us in our own death. One Eucharist will be the last from which we take the oil from the tables of the Word and sacrament that helps us to keep our lamps burning and light our way to open the doors of our hearts to the Bridegroom.
How can you keep your heart open the Bridegroom this coming week?