Today’s Gospel tells us about ten people who were waiting for the wedding feast to begin. Five brought extra oil with them and five didn’t. We could say that the five with the extra oil were prepared for whatever could go wrong.
To help understand the parable, we need to look at the customs of that day. A wedding was held at the house of the bride’s father. The virgins are the bridesmaids who are in the house for the wedding. Remember that in those days, marriages were arranged by the parents to build a good partnership between the two families for economic, political or even military power.
The groom was delayed for a long time. When it was announced that the groom was finally going to arrive, five of the virgins needed oil to be ready to participate in the wedding. They were unprepared and needed to go buy oil in the middle of the night. When they found a merchant who would sell them the oil they needed and returned to the wedding, it was too late. The wedding had started and the door was locked since it was the middle of the night. They five people who went to get more supplies were locked out.
The fact that all ten of the virgins were in the house of the bride did not guarantee that they would attend the wedding. Five of them were not prepared for the long wait for the groom to appear. The bride’s father’s house represents the church. It is important that, even though we attend church, participate and volunteer to help others, we are truly children of the Kingdom of God.
There is a lot of talk now days about being prepared. Some people stock food and supplies just in case there is a major natural disaster or civil unrest. They want to be ready to survive any situation for however long it takes. These people are frequently referred to as “Preppers”.
We too must be prepared. But our preparation is not of this world with food, guns, fuel and safe rooms. We prepare for a Heavenly Kingdom by the way we live our lives. Our supply of “oil” is the kindness we show to others; the homeless person we help or the comfort we give to the person who just found out they have terminal cancer. By our actions, we will ensure we have flasks of oil so we are ready when Jesus comes for us.