My Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In today’s Gospel Jesus explains a very important parable with special significance. In this parable, Jesus wanted to relay the necessity of being vigilant and preparing oneself for the final judgment. Jesus presented a scene of a wedding banquet drawing upon the image of the life of the Church and the souls aspiring for eternity.
During the time of the Hebrews it was the custom, after the nuptial supper, for the cortege to escort the bride and lead her to the groom. With lamps lit, the cortege formed by friends of the groom and friends of the bride, led the bride from the banquet hall to the bridegroom’s chamber. It was on this background and custom Jesus formed one of the most beautiful of his parables.
The application of the story is multifaceted regarding the souls who are consecrated to God. The Church accompanies the Groom, divine Jesus Christ, (the Church is the true nuptial house, which is in heaven) to the true nuptial banquet which is eternity with God.
The church is not formed of only the elect. It includes pilgrims on earth who are tested as they prepare for the final judgment. Some souls, spiritual and wise, guard against the surprise of the long wait (trial on earth). The wise one guards against falling into sin. The foolish one (makes no provision to reserve the lamp oil) falls asleep, so spiritually they are lacking.
The lit lamps indicate the faith, the light resplendent in the darkness of exile, the oil that sustains the good deeds, because like the lamps without oil they go out, so faith without deeds is dead.
The souls that attend the groom are represented as the virgins, because in reality on earth we are all awaiting the eternal banquet. We have to be free from any attacks and any attachments that can divide us from the heart of God.
During the night of the waiting all the souls fall asleep because all fall in sin and imperfection. Those who have taken precaution to take care of their own soul and nourish it spiritually, at the call of grace rise and replenish the lamp of faith with charity. Those who do not have foresight remain with the lamp half lit (also internally extinguished). Prayer, the holy lectures and mortifications can, at times, seem an exaggeration and unnecessary. For those who meet the challenges of this life, the need to reserve spiritual strength is indispensable.
Old age is the night of the temporal life and awaiting this eternal life is the time of our own dwelling (home) on earth. The one who is wise accumulates the reserve of love in his youth. With the decline of years, one finds what he needs to sustain the heart. One makes preparation so that one should be able to sustain oneself during the period of trials and testing. Meanwhile the souls without provision, when they have temptation of sin, consume the little oil that fed the lamp and falter in the light of the faith.
When the groom arrives, they are not ready to meet him, they have been asleep, and their lamps are going out. Meaning, they have fallen into sin and they have not repented. That is, they made no provisions for their souls, therefore they are not ready to meet the groom. They have no oil; they are not in the state of grace. When they arrive before the Groom, Jesus Christ, they are not disposed (not ready to meet him). They have no oil, that is (faith). Because they have made no provision for their souls, when it is time for them to enter heaven, they are not ready. The door is closed.
Yours in Christ,
Fr. Vincent Clemente