On this Holy Tuesday:
Let us pray to the Lord.
O you who observe all things with your eye that never sleeps, who afford us such saving lessons in your desire to grant mercy to all who seek it: We give thanks to you for raising us from bed and sleep to enjoy the light of another day. Receive this morning worship we offer you as we continue to follow the passion of your only Son. Enable us to prepare our lamps with care, that they may shine forth with undaunted faith and virtue. Like the wise virgins, may we, too, be worthy of entering the wedding feast with your Christ, so that, filled with a deep love for him, we may also be worthy of the incorruptible crown.
By the grace and mercy and love for us of your only Son, with whom you are blest, together with your all-holy, good, and life-giving Spirit: now and forever, and unto ages of ages. Amen. (A prayer of Fr. Laurence)
The parable of the five wise and five foolish virgins is such a familiar story that we run the risk of passing it by without proper attention.
Look at this powerful parable in our Lesson today in Matthew 24:36-51; 25:1-46; 26:1-2:
The Lord said to his disciples, “Of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they did not know until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of man. Then two men will be in the field; one is taken and one is left. Two of them will be grinding at the mill; one is taken and one is left. Watch therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the householder had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have watched and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
“Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master when he comes will find so doing. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants, and eats and drinks with the drunken, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will punish him, and put him with the hypocrites; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.
“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. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those maidens rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise replied, ‘Perhaps there will not be enough for us and for you; go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast; and the door was shut. Afterward the other maidens came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us.’ But he replied, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour when the Son of man shall come.
So, let’s consider the risk we take when we foolishly neglect to prepare. In our everyday lives a lack of preparation always reveals an inattentive mind. This is why the Church focuses us on staying spiritually awake through repentance. Repentance is the “changing of your mind” the transformation in the way you think. Waking up to reality and being ready for it!
This is why the five wise virgins thought ahead and prepared themselves in case the Bridegroom delayed His arrival. Their good preparation started with the way they thought.
Today, pay attention to what you think about and allow the focus of Holy Week to crowd out all lesser worries, fears, and temptations. This is a GREAT GIFT for you this week. Don’t miss it!