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Friday of the Twenty-First Week in Ordinary Time
“At that time the Kingdom of Heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’ ‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’ But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’ But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’ Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.”
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, prepare my heart to receive you, the bridegroom of my soul.
- Contemplate the Wise Virgins: The five wise virgins awaited the bridegroom with eagerness. They prepared themselves for all possible contingencies so that they would not miss out on this grandest of opportunities. We are called to imitate their joyful, anticipatory disposition. The object of our desire is Jesus, the bridegroom, who wants to espouse us (unite us) to him in eternity. Are we sagacious enough to foresee and keep our lamp lit? How does our preparedness translate into daily life? Greater constancy in prayer? Cultivating a taste for him in the Eucharist? Remaining in the life of grace and delicacy of friendship through confession?
- The Foolish Virgins: Jesus called five of the virgins foolish for not having taken any extra oil with them. The oil symbolizes that which keeps the heart kindled. Why did they not think of this detail? Did they not anticipate with sufficient fervor the importance of the bridegroom’s coming? Did they not think ahead to what could have become a long wait? Something distracted their hearts and left them in a certain state of acedia, a lessening of willingness to be inconvenienced by a possible long wait.
- Keeping the Lamp Lit: The wise virgins represent all vocations in the Church. They embody the ones who strive to love the Lord with all their heart, soul, and mind. St. Augustine commented on this in his Sermon 43. “The title of virginity is not usually applied to married persons: yet even in them there is a virginity of faith, which produces wedded chastity. For that you may know, Holy Brethren, that everyone, every soul, as touching the soul, and that corruptness of faith by which abstinence from things unlawful is practiced, and by which good works are done, is not unsuitably called a virgin; the whole Church which consists of virgins, and boys, and married men and married women, is by one name called a Virgin. Whence prove we this? Hear the Apostle saying, not to the religious women only but to the whole Church together; I have espoused you to One Husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. And because the devil, the corrupter of this virginity, is to be guarded against, after the Apostle had said, I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ; he subjoined, But I fear, lest as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. Few have virginity in the body; in the heart all ought to have it.”
Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, I desire to keep my lamp lit, the lamp of good works done with the desire to please and glorify you. Grant that all Christians will strive to enkindle faith, hope, and love so as to prepare for their encounter with you, whenever that may be.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will reflect on the things that I can do that enkindle my love for you.
For Further Reflection: The Noonday Devil: Acedia, the Unnamed Evil of Our Times.
Jennifer Ristine is a consecrated woman of Regnum Christi dedicated to spiritual and faith formation through teaching, conferences, writing, and spiritual direction. While serving in Ancient Magdala she wrote Mary Magdalene: Insights from Ancient Magdala and “Nine Days with Mary Magdalene.”