Friday of the Twenty-first Week in Ordinary Time [I]
1 Thessalonians 4:1-8 + Matthew 25:1-13
“Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”
The parable that Jesus teaches in today’s Gospel passage presents at the outset a question which can prevent us from reaching down into Jesus’ point. We might well ask, “Why are there ten virgins but only one bridegroom?” What is the setting or background to this story that Jesus is telling? Scholars may debate such points, but for ordinary Christians like ourselves, it would be more fruitful to set aside such speculation, and dwell instead on applying the parable to our own spiritual lives today.
Christ is the divine Bridegroom, and each Christian is—in our fallen humanity—called to wed one’s self to Christ. Our sacramental, spiritual life consists of our espousal to Christ, and in this each of us is one member of the Mystical Body of Christ. Throughout her history the Church has (so far) had well over a billion members, each a spiritual bride to Christ. Men may have difficulty applying this imagery to themselves, and of course this imagery has to be considered carefully. Nonetheless, the writings (not to say the very lives) of both male and female saints show us how to grow authentically within these truths.
If we were to apply Jesus’ parable in a succinct way, we might consider the final sentence, where the divine Bridegroom exhorts us to “stay awake”. We ought not rest comfortably in God’s grace, but rather realize our need each day to be alert to His coming more deeply into our lives.