From Fr. Alex Radulescu - Tonight’s service (which is actually the Orthros service of Tuesday) brings to mind the idea of preparedness. And this idea comes from the Scripture readings of the day (Tuesday) taken from Matthew 24:36-51; 25:1-46; 26:1-2.
Let me go to one of them (Matthew 25:1-13). It starts like this:
“Then the kingdom of heaven shall be compared to ten maidens who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise…For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps” (1-3). For the foolish to go to the market and buy oil meant to miss the guest’s arrival. And that’s exactly what happened. They did miss the arrival. The consequence was that they were left out in the dark. It was too late. The door of the banquet was now closed.
So, let me ask this simple question: who in the world goes out in the dark with a lamp in their hand and no oil? Verse 3 says that “they took no oil.” What? That’s bizarre. This is like me starting a trip in a car with no gas in the tank, or getting a flashlight with no batteries, or going to the store with no money.
That detail in v.3 makes no sense… unless you are foolish (the Greek word used is μωρός which also means a baby, a child who is not yet wise, but it is also the origin of the English word moron). In the context of the parable, foolish means to not use the gifts God gave you and be unprepared for the task ahead. They foolish virgins failed to recognize the purpose of their mission and left the home with empty lamps. They were not prepared.
And who are the characters in this story? The Bridegroom is Christ and the Bride is the Church. The oil in the lamps represents the virtues. The lamps are our hearts. The maidens point to how we respond to the call of the Lord and fulfill our purpose in life. The wise maidens are those who practice the virtues in this life, while the foolish are those who ignore God’s gifts and live a life of self-indulgence.
Brothers and sisters, no one knows when the Lord will return to take us into the marriage feast of His Kingdom. It is clear from today’s parable that only those who stay prepared will be able to join Christ. It will be really foolish for us to disregard the opportunities we have in this life to act with love, compassion, generosity and fill the lamps of our hearts with the oil of virtues.
During this pandemic, let us make every effort to help those in need, to pray for the world, to be kind to one another and to reflect on our purpose to be with the Christ, when He will enter the Great Feast. Amen.