It’s About More than Oil

September 1, 2017 – Friday of the Twenty-First Week in Ordinary Time

World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation

Mark J. Poletunow, Malvern President (mpoletunow@malvernretreat.com)

Click for: Readings for the day (From the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops)

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew (25:1-13)

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.”

 

Reflect: Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out. At first blush, it may appear that the interaction between the two groups of virgins in the parable was a lesson about sharing gone bad. Why didn’t the ones who were prepared with more oil share with the others whose supply was low? It seems cruel that they refused to share. The unprepared ones, however, were asking for something that was impossible for the prepared ones to give. They were prepared because they had the grace of understanding that they needed to be prepared for the bridegroom, regardless of his arrival time. There was already a relationship established with the bridegroom that gave them insight into the likelihood of his “delayed” arrival. The parable isn’t about a supply, or not, of oil; but, rather, it is about awareness, grace and relationship that can’t be transferred to another just for the asking.  Each of us must develop our own relationship with Jesus. By being attentive to and acting on his word, we become prepared. By participating in the sacraments, we receive actual grace. Those are the gifts that open the door for entry into the wedding feast. Grace isn’t cheap. It comes from a genuine relationship with Jesus, the Bridegroom. Sincere cooperation with God’s grace opens the door to his Kingdom. However, cooperation with God’s grace is a personal decision that each of us must make. It won’t happen just by floating along through life.

Questions: Am I intentional about seeking and cooperating with God’s grace? If I were to die today, would I be prepared to enter into the Kingdom of God? How might the Lord be challenging me to take my relationship with him more seriously?

Pray: Loving God, I want to enter your wedding feast. Please help me to cooperate with your grace so that I might be prepared, by already being in relationship with you, whenever you call me. I pray this in the powerful and perfect name of Jesus. Amen.

Holy God; Holy and Mighty One; Holy and Immortal One: Have mercy on us and on the whole world.

September 1 is to be observed annually as the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation which “will offer individual believers and communities a fitting opportunity to reaffirm their personal vocation to be stewards of creation, to thank God for the wonderful handiwork which he has entrusted to our care, and to implore his help for the protection of creation as well as his pardon for the sins committed against the world in which we live” (Pope Francis, 6 August 2015).

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