Aug. 26, 2016

Without spiritual energy, the body is a lamp without oil

Are the wise virgins wicked?

The story of the ten bridesmaids in the scripture (Matt.25:1-13) touches on the need for preparedness in our spiritual journey. This is applicable to every human endeavour. There is the famous slogan that "Failure to plan means planning to fail". And for that Christ states at the end of that passage, "So stay awake, because you do not know either the day or the hour".

How do we stay awake? The parable of the ten virgins gives us the answer. The foolish virgins took their lamps but took no oil whereas the sensible virgins took flasks of oil as well as their lamps. The wise virgins took note of the important thing.

Those of us from places like Africa where lantern is common, where electricity is not in full supply will recognize the importance of having oil for the lantern at night. The oil we used for the lantern was kerosene, and every family made sure they checked their kerosene oil and cleaned their lamps in the daytime before it got dark. It would be terrible for any household to only discover they didn't have oil at night, sometimes the sellers won't be available for late purchase. So I can connect with this story. The oil is important to light the lantern.

But why did the wise virgins refuse to give some oil to the foolish virgins? Aren't they wicked? The answer is no. The reason is simply because they are wise. That passage reads, "...and the foolish virgins said to the wise ones, 'Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.' But they replied, 'There may not be enough for us and you" (Matt.25:8-9). One of two things would have happened: Either they gave them the oil and both groups would be plunged into darkness, (all would become foolish); or they didn't give them and have sufficient for themselves to be able to welcome the bridegroom. They chose the latter. They had spiritual reserves that were needed for their upkeep.

In our spiritual journey, it is important to take that which is necessary. The lamp is important but the lamp without oil is useless. Our oil is the energy which comes from prayers and the sacraments. Without spiritual energy, the body becomes a lamp without oil. The spiritual energy helps us to remain firm, strong and courageous in tough times. The spiritual energy sustains us in moments of trials and temptations. The spritual energy enables us to resist the darkness of sin as Saint Paul warns, "For it is not against human enemies that we have to struggle, but against the principalities and the ruling forces who are masters of the darkness in this world, the spirits of evil in the heavens. That is why you must take up all God's armour, or you will not be able to put up any resistance on the evil day, or stand your ground even though you exert yourselves to the full" (Eph.6:12-13). The spiritual energy is important in the life of the individual as well as in the family.

Like the wise virgins, let's always be wise. Let's be conscious of our spiritual reserves. Let's invest our energy in the important things of life. Keep your spiritual energy alive. Be awake!