Fr. Mike’s Friday Homily of the 21st week in Ordinary Time Cycle I
Theme: Parable of the ten virgins
By: Fr. Mike Lagrimas
St. Michael the Archangel Parish
Diocese of Novaliches
Homily for Friday August 28 2021
Jesus told His disciples this parable: “Then 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.
The parable today tells us about the Ten Virgins. Five of them are wise, and the other five are foolish. This parable is part of the eschatological discourse of Jesus. At the end of time, Jesus is coming to judge both the living and the dead. He is sure to come. But like the bridegroom in the parable, nobody knows the exact time or moment of His coming.
In the meantime, we have to wait patiently, with our lamps shining brightly all the time. And to ensure this, we should always have enough supply of oil. This echoes the instruction of the Lord to Moses: “Order the Israelites to bring you clear oil of crushed olives for the light, so that you may keep the lamp burning regularly” (Leviticus 24:2).
Let us reflect on the meaning of this parable. The Bridegroom is Jesus Christ. The ten virgins are commonly understood to represent the disciples of Jesus. St. Augustine, said they are the souls who “have the Catholic faith and seem to have good works in the church of God.”
All the virgins went out to meet the bridegroom. They left the world behind to follow the Lord. They are sincere in their desire to “seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God” (Col 3:1). Each one brings along with them their lighted lamps. There was only one difference between them: while the wise virgins took oil in their vessels together with their lamps, the foolish virgins did not.
The lighted lamps symbolize our confession of faith. Our faith is not meant to be kept to ourselves: “Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house” (Mt 5:15). These lamps need enough supply of oil. The oil signifies good works: “Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father” (Matt 5:16). And St. Augustine goes deeper, saying that the oil signifies love or charity, “the gift of God”. For as St. Paul points out in his First Letter to the Corinthians, our good works are nothing without love (1 Cor 13:1-3). In the final analysis, it is love that truly counts. St. John of the Cross said, “At the evening of life, we shall be judged on our love.”
The foolish virgins realized their lamps are going out and they have no oil with them. They asked the wise virgins for some of their oil. But their request was denied. The wise virgins couldn’t give their oil to anybody because no one can borrow the good works of others to make up for the good works they failed to do. According to St. Paul, each person must “work out [their] own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil 2:12).
And finally, all of the virgins “became drowsy and fell asleep”. Drowsiness and sleep are symbols of death, according to St. Augustine’s interpretation. Everybody dies and eventually face the judgment seat of God. The moment of death is the moment of judgment. This is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches: “Each man receives his eternal retribution in his immortal soul at the very moment of his death in a particular judgment that refers his life to Christ, either entrance into the blessedness of heaven-through a purification or immediately, — or immediate and everlasting damnation” (CCC 1022).
The five wise virgins were perfected in good works and charity. So they “were ready” and “went into the wedding feast with him.” The wedding feast is traditionally the symbol for the eternal glory and happiness with the angels and saints in heaven. And then the door was locked. The foolish virgins were left outside, and cried, “Lord, Lord, open the door for us!” But their cries were unheeded for, as Jesus said in His Sermon on the Mount, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven” (Matt 7:21).
Let us not waste the remaining days of our life on earth. We all know that earthly life is short. But it is long enough to produce sufficient oil of good works that will keep our lamps of faith burning brightly. These good works, too, are the everlasting treasures that we store in heaven (Mt 6:20). When Jesus comes, we are ready to join Him in His eternal wedding feast in heaven.
Fr. Mike Lagrimas
St. Michael the Archangel Parish
Diocese of Novaliches