The End Times
When I drive to work, there is still a huge billboard on the roadside that says the world will end on May 21. I haven’t seen one around here about the December 12 prophecy but perhaps that one will eventually appear as well.
It strikes me as utterly absurd that someone — a human person — would believe they could predict the End Times. It’s even more disconcerting that they could get so many people to buy into it. I think people are just afraid and uncertain of what is to come.
5 Foolish and 5 Wise
Yesterday’s gospel comes in handy here: The Parable of the 10 Virgins.
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.
A question popped up in my mind during the reading and Fr. Norm was gracious enough to provide the answer straight away (though his clairvoyance was a tad unsettling in the moment). Why wouldn’t the 5 wise virgins share their lamp oil with the 5 foolish virgins?
Not very Christian-like, wouldn’t you say?
We all have to come to God on our own.
It’s a parable or metaphor as so many stories in the Bible are. So there’s a deeper meaning.
Having oil in our lamps means that we are preparing ourselves for the end times… whether that be at the conclusion of our own lives or at the end of all things (to be Frodo-esque). It means we are actively seeking relationship with God… trying to live a holy and faithful life.
Go get your own oil
The 5 foolish virgins were procrastinators. (Aren’t we all at some time?) They weren’t thinking about the future nor being proactive.
So what Jesus is teaching in the parable is that no one else can prepare you for what is to come. You have to do it for yourself. You have to go get your own oil.
No doctor or engineer can make you a doctor or engineer. You have to engage in learning.
No bodybuilder can give you the muscles of a bodybuilder. You have to pump the iron.
No one can give you oil for your lamp. You have to go get it yourself.
A Sense of Entitlement
We all live in this expectation.
Having paid their dues with the sweat of their brows, older generations bask in retirement looking to live an easy and comfortable life.
The middle generations were the recipients of a lot of great opportunities handed to them by their parents.
And the younger generations are… well… they’re just young.
The sense of entitlement runs deep among all ages. Even in matters of faith. Surely God will be merciful.
Yes, God is merciful.
The rest of the Gospel of Matthew is pretty clear though… if you did not do it for the least of these… then you did not do it for me.
And Jesus goes onto say something to the effect of: Woe are you… wailing and gnashing of teeth… sheep on the right, goats on the left… and more.
Basically you get the idea that it’s better to live like the 5 wise virgins now.
The 5 foolish virgins came back with oil in their lamps but the doors were closed and they couldn’t get into the party.
I really want to be one of the 5 wise virgins.