August 30, 2019
by Larry Gillick, S. J.
Creighton University's Deglman Center for Ignatian Spirituality
click here for photo and information about the writer

Friday of the Twenty-first Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 429

1 Thessalonians 4:1-8
Psalms 97:1 and 2b, 5-6, 10, 11-12
Matthew 25:1-13

Praying Ordinary Time

A rather humorous thing occurred about an hour ago. I was reading an article about sleeping and dreaming during sleep and how important both sleeping and dreaming are for physical and psychological health. And then! I read the Gospel upon which I am to pray and then compose a Daily, (nightly) Reflection. Woe is me!

This chapter from Matthew’s account of Jesus’ life death and resurrection has two short parables and then the famous Last Judgement story. All three sections form quite a unity.

Several distracting questions might arise when finishing the reading or listening to this parable. If it is night, why did not the ten young women blow out their lamps? Why are the ten unmarried young women waiting up all night for an unavailable newly-married young man? Why did not the five “wise” women share their oil, one at a time and they all would have lamps alight for the late-arriving smiling young man who would be imagining such a delightful welcome party?  Why did not they have candles which last longer?

Parables are not to be literally analyzed or speculatively questioned. They are offered to be received personally through a prayerful reception.

Jesus is speaking to His disciples about the Kingdom of God and how the King is coming when He comes. Those in the Kingdom are those for whom He comes. Lamps are means by which we see, firstly ourselves, then those around us for whom and to whom the King is also coming.

The King is always coming whether we are awake or asleep. Love constantly moves toward the loved, the ones come to, come for.

As mentioned above, the Last Judgment will picture people saying to the King, “When did we see you…..” The oil is faith which is a way of seeing ourselves and others as belonging to the King. Each person has been given a longing, a sense that somehow, life is an invitation seeking a response. The oil is a symbol of a faith which lives reverently with that sense of longing, of waiting, of watching. That can seem rather passive and self-absorbed.  ”I want to be in that number.” Faith as well as religion can be “all about me!” Perhaps the “unwise” young maidens were foolish, because being included was their preoccupation.

Jesus is asking in this entire chapter, as well as in the whole of His life, to know and live the difference between “self-awareness” and “self-absorption”. The wise are those, who by the light of faith, can see themselves and then all others in the Light of Christ, belonging in and to Christ. The “unwise” have lost sight, light, and live in the darkness of a self-contained prison. They do not know themselves except in the darkness of exclusion and fear.

The ”wise” are those who have stayed awake, not to the final, last, coming of Christ, but alert to the next coming. The self-aware person is attuned to the presence of Jesus in the hungry, naked, imprisoned, thirsty and in any way, marginalized. Jesus welcomes those “wise, well-lighted” in today’s parable and He will welcome those who will enter His kingdom, because they are already there. The “self-aware” are awake to their own sacred place in the lives of others and the place others have in their continued creation by the Loving, Creating God. Staying awake is not so good for the body and mind, but quite a blessing for the “wise” watchers who continually see Jesus and themselves in His light. 

Click on the link below to send an e-mail response
to the writer of this reflection.

Sharing this reflection with others by Email, on Facebook or Twitter:

Email this pageFacebookTwitter

Print Friendly

See all the Resources we offer on our Online Ministries Home Page

Daily Reflection Home

Collaborative Ministry Office Guestbook