A personal reflection on Matthew 25.1-13
The bridesmaids knew something about readiness and unreadiness. According to the high standards of Eastern hospitality, particularly that of ancient wedding customs, they awaited the coming of the bridegroom, so to escort him to the wedding feast. Not knowing the precise hour of his appearance, their lamps were burning.
At last, the bridegroom arrived. The bridesmaids, aroused from slumber, prepared to greet him. It was midnight, requiring lamplight. Five had sufficient oil. Their lamps burned brightly. Five lacked. Their lamps burned barely.
They turned to the first. They spoke. I wonder. In what voice? Plaintive, pleading in an implicit, honest acknowledgement of their failing, “Give us some of your oil.” Or in demanding tones of entitlement, “Give us some of your oil!”
The first replied. I wonder. With what tone? Haughtily gleeful at another’s failing, callously disregarding the need, “No! There will not be enough for you and for us!” Or with a more sympathetic, but no less firm awareness that one’s prudent preparation cannot compensate for another’s negligence in the immediacy of a moment’s need, “No, there will not be enough for you and for us.”
No matter, really. The result was the same. The five without had to look elsewhere for oil. By the time they returned, the wedding banquet had begun. They were late. Left out. Locked out.
Illustration: The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins (1822), William Blake (1757-1827)