“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3 The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. 4 The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5 The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
6 “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’
7 “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8 The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’
9 “‘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.’
10 “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.
11 “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’
12 “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’
13 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.Matthew 25:1-13 (NIV)
Like many young boys in the 1970s, I joined Cub Scouts when I was in third grade. I remained a member of the scouting program through Webelos and into Boy Scouts. My freshman year of high school, I dropped out of scouts to pursue other interests. I am grateful for all that I learned during my tenure with the Boy Scouts of America. One of the key principles in scouting is to always be prepared. Many of the skills which a scout is taught have the purpose of guiding a young man in how to be prepared for a variety of life circumstances.
The passage which we are examining today speaks of preparedness, Jesus is talking about the fulfillment of the kingdom of heaven. He tells the story of ten bridesmaids who are awaiting the arrival of their bridegroom. Half of the bridesmaids were prepared for a late arrival of the bridegroom by having extra oil on hand for their lamps. The other half were not prepared so while they were going to get more oil, they missed out when the bridegroom arrived. Jesus uses this story to illustrate the importance of being prepared for the unknown time of the fulfillment of heaven’s kingdom.
Jesus’s warning speaks to us today. As we continue to await the ushering in of the kingdom fulfilled by Christ, we must consider our preparedness for such an event. Peter writes in 2 Peter 3 that God’s time is not our time and when God chooses, the fulfillment will take place.
How does one prepare? There is no specific right or wrong way. The key element of our preparedness is to believe in the love, grace, and forgiveness of the Lord. We continue to work at understanding how these elements impact our perspectives on life, relationships, and our connectedness with the Lord. We strive to respond to God’s love by following Christ’s example of service and the embracing of others. We await with anticipation the promises of our Lord.