February 25, 2018, 9:48 am
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It’s time to focus and commit fully

JESUS told his disciples this parable: “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, when taking their lamps, brought no oil with them, but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps. Since the bridegroom was long delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight, there was a cry, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’

Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps.

The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise ones replied, ‘No, for there may not be enough for us and you. Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’ While they went off to buy it, the bridegroom came and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him. Then the door was locked. Afterwards the other virgins came and said, ‘Lord, Lord, open the door for us!’ But he said in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

***

All of us are called to share in the Wedding Feast of the Lamb (cf. Rev 19:9). This is the endpoint of every liturgical year we celebrate so that, as we partake in the liturgy of the Church in the world, we may be initiated into the heavenly liturgy where there is ceaseless joy in front of God’s countenance.

In the transition of our celebration from earth to heaven, we do not just passively wait for the coming of that transformative segment. That duration is always coupled with “pro-active” anticipation: we do not just wait such that we fall asleep and simply be awakened when it is already there. This anticipation should be preoccupied with preparation. 

The Parable of the Ten Virgins demonstrates the message of preparation. Jesus encourages us with the lesson he said at the end of the parable: “Stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour” (Mt 25:13). It is actually telling us to prepare for the coming of God in his definitive hour. Jesus is comparing this coming to the Jewish wedding feast, when the arrival of the bridegroom is always a surprise to well-wishers. It is not scheduled according to our own estimation. Only the bridegroom knows when he wants to surprise the excited visitors.

How, then, should we prepare for the coming of Christ’s Kingdom? We see two ways:

Being Single-minded. In preparation, we always encounter distractions. We are bothered even by how we should proceed to identify our priorities. Jesus is clear in his example of the wise virgins. We should focus on our single goal, which is to experience the joy of the coming of the Kingdom of God. From there, we identify our task and the means on how to achieve it. That is why the five wise virgins had with them extra oil because it is a coherent resultant to “top up” our oil for our lights if we are to expend oil for such enthusiastic yearning. If we stick to our single goal, we will never end up fragmented and disoriented in preparation. We keep a clear mind and hence we become wise in being single-minded.

Maintaining a Total Commitment. Preparing oneself for the coming of God is not just “a day near the end” planning. It is a lifetime commitment. Our decision to answer God’s call to follow him is actually the moment we start preparing to welcome God’s reign in our lives. Being Christian is not being “picky.” We should embrace Jesus’ challenges without taking for granted any part of it. We can learn from what the foolish virgins failed to do in their commitment to wait for the bridegroom. Yes, they were willing to wait but they fell short in realizing that they had wasted most of their waiting by just “sleeping” over opportunities to grow in their yearning. We cannot take shortcuts to heaven by simply cramming over when everything is already definitive. We cannot teach ourselves to be committed overnight. There is no “expressway” commitment but only the way of the cross of Jesus.

The wedding feast is for all of us. God invites us but it is up to us if we patiently prepare for it. It is high time to decide; it’s time to focus and commit fully.

***

– Fr. Ric Anthony A. Reyes, OSA
– (Nov. 12, 2017)
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